Surrealist Senses: Marcel Jean’s Representations of Budapest

au galop

Abstract

The paper analyzes the spatial representations and the self-representations of the surrealist author Marcel Jean in his late autobiography entitled Au galop dans le vent (1991), where he reflects upon his life and upon the seven years that he spent in Budapest with his wife between 1939 and 1945, and also in his book Mnésiques, published in 1942 in Budapest. In this latter book the presence of the surrealist mythology of transformation can be interpreted as a representation of the dislocated self, Au galop dans le vent showing the historical and biographical contexts of these experiences.

Keywords: Marcel Jean, Árpád Mezei, Au galop dans le vent, European School, Mnésiques, surrealism, war

Imre József BALÁZS
Surrealist Senses: Marcel Jean’s Representations of Budapest
Acta Universitatis Sapientiae, Philologica, 5, 1 (2013) 17−31

Besides Hungarian language and friends who spoke French, one possible contact for Jean with the Hungarian world could have been art. However, he felt that his surrealist interests were not shared in the country: “je ne perçus aucun echo significatif des mouvements occidentaux, aucune activité d’un véritable groupe d’avant-garde. […] Les peintres les plus ‘avancés’ en étaient restés à l’expressionisme allemande ou à l’abstractionnisme néerlandais. Le surréalisme? Très vaguement perçu, presque ignoré, alors qu’en Tchéquie, Serbie, Roumanie, il faisait école. ”  (Au galop dans le vent, 80–81.) He gets to the same conclusion after meeting one of the few people whose interests roughly coincide with his: Árpád Mezei. They get into contact after the publication of Mnésiques, authentic surrealist blend of dream narratives, essays, poetry and drawings, a book inspired by a walk in the neighbourhood of the Schmidt castle in Óbuda, today the building of the Kiscelli Múzeum. Having read the book at one of their friends, Tamás Lossonczy the painter, Mezei gets fascinated with it, and they begin their discussions that will lead later on to several co-authored books and articles. Their first project, however, a sort of history of surrealism written for a Hungarian audience, initiated by Jean, has to be abandoned because of lack of resources. In Budapest they cannot find enough material to document this history in a professional way: “On en vint à ébaucher le projet d’une histoire, ou d’un précis du surréalisme, à publier en hongrois. Nous manquions de documentation. Chez un bouquiniste, je tombai sur un exemplaire de Nadja dédicacé par Breton à l’écrivain Marcel Sauvage – comment cet exemplaire était-il arrivé là? (Breton ne sut me le dire lorsque, plus tard à Paris, je lui parlai de ma découverte.) Un bibliophile m’ouvrit sa bibliothèque, immense salle tapissée de livres du parquet au plafond où, en fait de surréalisme, il ne découvrit que la brochure Violette Nozières à laquelle j’avais collaboré en 1935. Gyúla [sic] Illyés, écrivain et poète, très ouvert et faisant autorité dans les cercles qui pouvaient se dire avancés, avait connu à Paris des membres du groupe surréaliste. […] Il me prêta quelques numéros dépareillés du Surréalisme au service de la révolution. Nulle part, je ne pus mettre la main sur La Révolution surréaliste ou Minotaure. On abandonna le projet d’une histoire du surréalisme.” (Au galop dans le vent, 83–84)

The lack of this type of material will not prevent them though from writing together an interpretation of Maldoror, where the kind of bibliography they use is more general, linked to psychology and philosophy. (…)

 

Full text available at: http://acta.sapientia.ro/acta-philo/C5-1/philo51-2.pdf

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