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

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Transferring Surrealism: Árpád Mezei and the Theories of Hybridity

„Comme les pièces de monnaie, les mots possèdent deux faces: ils sont à la fois signe et signification. […] Un mot est [selon Platon et Leibniz] construit de fonctions particulières qui lui donnent une structure analogue à celle de la chose exprimée. (…) Le surréalisme est né de la découverte que la réalité est entièrement construite sur le principe d’équivalence. Le mot ’surréalisme’ exprime cette nature double de la réalité. Le dadaisme, qui a précédé le surréalisme, correspondait simplement au principe d’incertitude, antithèse du principe d’identité: les dadaistes faisaient un usage indistinct des deux cotés du mot. Le surréalisme part des réalités distinctes du conscient et de l’inconscient et va vers la synthèse de ces composantes.”[1]

These words exploring the possible connections between sounds and signification, material aspects and meanings, can be found in the catalogue of an important surrealist exhibition, Le Surréalisme en 1947, and were written by Hungarian philosopher and art historian Arpad Mezei (1902–1998), co-author with surrealist painter Marcel Jean of several volumes on surrealism and its contexts: Maldoror (Paris, 1947), Genèse de la pensée moderne (Paris, 1950), Histoire de la peinture surréaliste (Paris, 1959). In my presentation I will argue that a re-reading of surrealist texts and images could be inspired by one of Mezei’s key concepts: hybridity. It is important to identify the historical role of such conceptualizations within surrealism itself (that is, the role of hybrids in postwar surrealist art), but this concept may help also to individualize surrealism among other currents of avant-garde or modernism. With the increasing interest of scholars towards the theories of hybridity within the context of globalization and multiple identities, the theories rooted in surrealism may add another dimension to the issue. Continue reading