Mad Muses and the Early Surrealists

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About the Book

The early surrealists attempted to create art directly from the unconscious, but the resulting art often reveals the stamp of its age. It is generally accepted that a certain macho sensibility prevailed within the movement, excluding queer sensibilities and reducing women to object status. In startling new readings of Breton, Bataille, Cocteau, Artaud, Crevel and others, Justin Vicari examines the intersections between surrealism and mental illness, deploying an interdisciplinary approach, which includes aesthetic theory, radical politics, and psychoanalysis. Of particular interest is the representation of the ideal woman as not only sexually available but mentally ill, a hysteric muse representing a kind of “authenticity” lost in modern life.

About the Author(s)

Justin Vicari is an award-winning poet, essayist and film writer. He lives in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania.

Bibliographic Details

Justin Vicari
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 224
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6656-6
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8882-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Preface: A Lover’s Revenge 1

Introduction: Modern Art and Mental Illness 5

 1. Love Me, Love My Unconscious: Aesthetics and Politics of Hysteria 21

 2. In Search of “Real Life”: André Breton and the Surrealist Quest for Modern Selfhood 49

 3. Loving Nadja 67

 4. Georges Bataille and the Incest Wish 81

 5. Michel Leiris and the Cult of Judith 103

 6. And the Dancing Girl Goes on Dancing: The “Surrealist Gaze” Between Men 113

 7. Masking the Medusa: The Cinema of Man Ray 126

 8. Cocteau in Rehab 135

 9. Artaud on Film: Hysterias of Dubbing 148

10. The Body of René Crevel 166

Conclusion: A Fool’s Paradise? 200

Chapter Notes 205

Bibliography 217

Index 221