Surrealpolitik: The Hunter Gracchus and Other Papers on Literature & Art

Author: Guy Davenport

New York: Counterpoint (1997)

Quick Summary

Of special note, the article Civilization and Its Opposite in the 1940s, in which he calls surrealism "the metaphysical poetry of satire".


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In the forties French thinkers were diligently exploring in two complementary spaces: anthropology and surrealism. Claude Levi-Strauss and his structuralist circle were reassessing a century of ethnological research, trying to find out what human nature is (and thus carrying on the quests of Rousseau and Fourier), how it came to culture from barbarity, how it tamed itself. Surrealism defies definition but is always recognizable, whether as a canvas by Giorgio de Chico or a play by Eugene Ionesco. Since its tactics are to disclose the illogical and the absurd through imaginative juxtaposition, it is technically a satiric art. Yet it differs widely from satire in that it is essentially poetic. Surrealism is the metaphysical poetry of satire. (page 85-86)

[From chapter: Civilization and Its Opposite in the 1940s]
Tags: [Surrealism]