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Surrealism and the Art of Crime (Hardback)
  • Surrealism and the Art of Crime (Hardback)
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Surrealism and the Art of Crime (Hardback)

(author), (foreword)
£32.00
Hardback 344 Pages / Published: 31/07/2008
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Corpses mark surrealism's path through the twentieth century, providing material evidence of the violence in modern life. Though the shifting group of poets, artists, and critics who made up the surrealist movement were witness to total war, revolutionary violence, and mass killing, it was the tawdry reality of everyday crime that fascinated them. Jonathan P. Eburne shows us how this focus reveals the relationship between aesthetics and politics in the thought and artwork of the surrealists and establishes their movement as a useful platform for addressing the contemporary problem of violence, both individual and political.In a book strikingly illustrated with surrealist artworks and their sometimes gruesome source material, Eburne addresses key individual works by both better-known surrealist writers and artists (including Andre Breton, Louis Aragon, Aime Cesaire, Jacques Lacan, Georges Bataille, Max Ernst, and Salvador Dali) and lesser-known figures (such as Rene Crevel, Simone Breton, Leonora Carrington, Benjamin Peret, and Jules Monnerot). For Eburne "the art of crime" denotes an array of cultural production including sensationalist journalism, detective mysteries, police blotters, crime scene photos, and documents of medical and legal opinion as well as the roman noir, in particular the first crime novel of the American Chester Himes. The surrealists collected and scrutinized such materials, using them as the inspiration for the outpouring of political tracts, pamphlets, and artworks through which they sought to expose the forms of violence perpetrated in the name of the state, its courts, and respectable bourgeois values.Concluding with the surrealists' quarrel with the existentialists and their bitter condemnation of France's anticolonial wars, Surrealism and the Art of Crime establishes surrealism as a vital element in the intellectual, political, and artistic history of the twentieth century.

Publisher: Cornell University Press
ISBN: 9780801446740
Number of pages: 344
Weight: 794 g
Dimensions: 238 x 168 x 30 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
"For most people, crime is an abstraction, but an abstraction that generates surreal fear; hence the popularity of mysteries and horror stories. Aldous Huxley said the subject matter of literature came from the crime pages of newspapers, in effect, real life. Auden said a poet is a 'gossip.' Eburne knows this and respects the psyche's integral measure of terror in this examination of 'the role of violent crime in the writing, art, and political thought of the surrealist movement' after the horrors of WWI. Copiously (in places grotesquely) illustrated, this study is an original take on the necessary blend of politics and sociology and their nefarious offshoots of gutter journalism, lurid dime novels, rumor, propaganda, and finally, serious art-a shaky, volatile mix that is in one's face, mind, and sometimes nightmares. The visuals contribute viscerally to the substantive research, presented in journalistic, readable prose that depicts the noirish nature of subjects and people. Would one expect otherwise with chapters titled 'On Murder, Considered as One of the Surrealist Arts,' 'Germaine Berton and the Ethics of Assassination,' and 'Persecution Mania'? This book is well done and delicious fun. Recommended. Graduate students, researchers, faculty, general readers."-Choice, March 2009
"Jonathan P. Eburne picks up cultural developments in France around 1920, when Dada came to Paris, and analyses how Surrealist art and writing represented criminal violence and integrated it into a developing political consciousness. . . . All Eburne's case studies are assiduously detailed"-Peter Read, Times Literary Supplement, July 3, 2009
"Eburne substantially raises the stakes as far as the scholarly understanding of surrealism is concerned. . . . Alert to the fact that one has to engage with the underlying collective essence of the surrealist spirit, he locates an essential thematic (in this case, crime) that can be seen to bind together certain fundamental surrealist attitudes . . . . Eburne's book is one of those rare things: a work of criticism that is not simply reflective of its subject but enlarges it."-Michael Richardson, Phosphor: A Surrealist Luminescence, Autumn 2009
"Surrealism and the Art of Crime is a terrific book. The quality is unbeatable, the writing brilliant and concise. Jonathan P. Eburne's point about the dynamism of thinking about criminality and the many links to political action is highly original. His discussion of the various images related to crime is professional and entertaining. The way in which Eburne brings the topic up to the current moment cannot fail to bring the most jaded readers of surrealism back to an attentive appreciation of the high points of its history and presence."-Mary Ann Caws, Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature, English, and French, The Graduate School of the City University of New York
"In Surrealism and the Art of Crime, Jonathan P. Eburne offers a revisionist analysis of surrealism and its impact from its origins to the 1950s. His focus on the artists' interest in criminal figures, faits divers, and political violence defines the often underappreciated subtlety of the relationship the surrealists forged between aesthetics and politics."-Carolyn J. Dean, Brown University

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