Andre Breton

(19 February 1896 – 28 September 1966 / Normandy)

Andre Breton
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a French writer and poet. He is known best as the founder of Surrealism. His writings include the first Surrealist Manifesto (Manifeste du surréalisme) of 1924, in which he defined surrealism as "pure psychic automatism".


Born to a family of modest means in Tinchebray (Orne) in Normandy, he studied medicine and psychiatry. During World War I he worked in a neurological ward in Nantes, where he met the devotee of Alfred Jarry, Jacques Vaché, whose anti-social attitude and disdain for established artistic tradition influenced Breton considerably. Vaché committed suicide at age 24, and his war-time letters to Breton and others were published in a volume ... more »

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  • Leave everything. Leave Dada. Leave your wife. Leave your mistress. Leave your hopes and fears. Leave your children in the woods. Leave the substance for the shadow. Leave your easy life, leave what y...
    André Breton (1896-1966), French Surrealist. "Lâchez tout!" Les Pas Perdus (1924).
  • ''Nothing retains less of desire in art, in science, than this will to industry, booty, possession.''
    André Breton (1896-1966), French surrealist. Mad Love, ch. 3 (1937, trans. 1987).
  • The work of art, just like any fragment of human life considered in its deepest meaning, seems to me devoid of value if it does not offer the hardness, the rigidity, the regularity, the luster on ever...
    André Breton (1896-1966), French surrealist. Mad Love, ch. 1 (1937, trans. 1987).
  • ''It is living and ceasing to live that are imaginary solutions. Existence is elsewhere.''
    André Breton (1896-1966), French Surrealist. repr. In Manifestoes of Surrealism (1969). Manifesto of Surrealism (1924).
  • To reduce the imagination to a state of slavery—even though it would mean the elimination of what is commonly called happiness—is to betray all sense of absolute justice within oneself. Imag...
    André Breton (1896-1966), French Surrealist. repr. In Manifestos of Surrealism (1969). Manifesto of Surrealism (1924).
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