ABSTRACT

From the time of its inception, Surrealism was intent not only on protesting, 1 but also on transforming the society and those ideologies which had contributed to the destruction and chaos of the first world war. Indeed, it was the trauma of the Great War that in the first instance made Surrealism “one of the more historically conscious artistic and intellectual movements of the twentieth century”. 2 Defining themselves as “in insurrection against History”, the Surrealists were always finely attuned to historical events and the politics of the moment. 3 Very early on in the history of the movement, and in order to move away from Dada’s perceived nihilism, André Breton [1896–1966] declared that poetry must “lead somewhere”, 4 with the aim, for the Surrealists, of achieving their own revolution:

We are the revolution of the mind […] We are not Utopians: this revolution we conceive of only in its social form. 5