Founder of the Surrealist movement, André Breton has also come to be recognized as one of the twentieth century's most innovative and influential poets. The inaugural volume in the Poets for the Millennium series, André Breton offers the most comprehensive selection available in English of Breton's poetry, along with a selection of his major prose writings. The translations, a number of which are published here for the first time, are by some of the most notable poets in our language, including David Antin, Paul Auster, Samuel Beckett, Michael Benedikt, Robert Duncan, David Gascoyne, and Charles Simic. This volume also includes an extensive biographical and thematic introduction by Mark Polizzotti, which sets the poems in the context of Breton's life and overall career.
Introduction: Phrases Knocking at the Window by Mark Polizzotti
Key to Translators
The Mystery Corset
from The Magnetic Fields
No Way Out of Here
In the Eyes of the Gods
Angle of Sight
from Soluble Fish
Make it so daylight . . .
I Listen to Myself Still Talking
The Writings Depart
The Forest in the Axe
No Grounds for Prosecution
After the Giant Anteater
A Branch of Nettle Enters through the Window
In the lovely half-light of 1934 . . .
It was going on five in the morning . . .
Always for the first time . . .
from Fata Morgana
On the Road to San Romano (version 1)
On the Road to San Romano (version 2)
The New Spirit
The Disdainful Confession
from Manifesto of Surrealism
from Second Manifesto of Surrealism
Simulation of General Paralysis Essayed
The Automatic Message
Mark Polizzotti is the author of Revolution of the Mind: The Life of André Breton (1995), Lautréamont Nomad (1994), The New Life: Poems (1998), and S: a novel (1997). He has translated the work of André Breton, René Daumal, Jean Echenoz, and Marguerite Duras, among others.
"This is a kind of "essence of Breton", variously translated by some of our finest writers, each of whom highlights different facets of Breton's complex work. Mark Polizzotti's useful introduction provides context and a brief analysis of the artist and his times."—Diane di Prima, author of Recollections of My Life as a Woman
"Mark Polizzotti, who is a poet, a translator, and the author of the definitive biography of André Breton, has chosen stellar translations of Breton's dazzling poetry and placed it in its lively context. This shapely introduction to the life and work of André Breton is smart, concise, and exciting. I cannot imagine a better one."—Ron Padgett, poet and translator of The Complete Poems of Blaise Cendrars
"The Poets for the Millennium Series generally and André Breton's Selected Works specifically offers a workable image of an author and the work and the conjuncture, all at once. What comes across is a vivid presentation of Andre Breton not just as an art czar, a manifesto merchant, but a serious, haunted, inventive and strangely profound poet of the imagination, who invented or archeologized new ways of dreaming, but insisted on bearing witness with them in the actual world. Polizzotti does justice--as I think no other writer has--to the double burden of Breton's work."—Robert Kelly
"A superbly chosen selection of Breton's poetry and prose, translated in every case with an elegant intelligence, and preceded by an unusually thorough introduction showing quite exactly how the poet's life informed each epoch of his work. It proves again the remarkable un-boringness of Breton, and how important he is now to our own poetry and to us.—Mary Ann Caws, author of The Surrealist Look: An Erotics of Encounter and editor of The Surrealist Painters and Poets