The Eight Most Essential Books About Surrealism

This year marks the centenary of Surrealism, or more specifically the publication of its founding manifesto and attendant journal. The title of the latter, La Révolution surréaliste (issued from 1924 to 1929), made plain the movement’s ambition: nothing less than a social and political revolution, a radical synthesis of unconscious desire and waking reality. Hamstrung both by Communist resistance to its “interior model” and by the rise of fascism and a new World War, this sur-reality never came to pass in the terms imagined by its originators. Its influence nevertheless remains everywhere, not merely in the slick corporate seductions of popular advertising but in anticolonial, anti-racist, and activist projects in which the marvelous and mysterious might still have a role to play. Here, we review eight books that make the history, reach, and lasting impact of this movement abundantly clear.


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