9781681374604

The Magnetic Fields

by ; ;
  • ISBN13:

    9781681374604

  • ISBN10:

    1681374609

  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2020-07-21
  • Publisher: New York Review of Books

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Summary

An indispensible classic of French poetry, this is a new translation of Breton and Soupault's experiment with automatic writing, and also the first known work of literary surrealism. 

In the spring of 1919, two young men, André Breton and Philippe Soupault, both in a state of shock after World War I, embarked on an experiment. Sick of the literary cultivation of “voice,” sick of the “well-written,” they wanted to unleash the power of the word and to create “a new morality” to replace “the prevailing morality, the source of all our trials and tribulations.” They had a plan. They would write for a week on every day of the week and they would write fast, as fast as possible, in complete secrecy. When the week was over, the writing would be done. No touching up. 

This was how The Magnetic Fields, the first sustained exercise in automatic writing, came to be. Charlotte Mandell’s brilliant new translation reveals a key work of twentieth-century literature.

Author Biography

André Breton (1896-1966) was a writer, poet, and co-founder of the surrealist movement. A student of psychiatry and a devout Marxist, Breton saw surrealism as the ultimate means to liberation both personal and political.

Philippe Soupault (1897-1990) was a co-founder of the surrealist movement alongside André Breton. Soupault left surrealism behind following political disagreements with Breton, remaining a lifelong writer. 

Charlotte Mandell is a translator of French literature. She has published numerous translations of writers including Jean Genet, Guy de Maupassant, and Gustave Flaubert. She has been awarded a translation prize from the Modern Language Association and the National Translation Award in Prose. She lives in the Hudson Valley of New York.

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