An attempt to summarise the Surrealist perspective

The Lovers by Rene Magrette

The Lovers by Rene Magrette

The need for sincerity in literary expression, felt strongly in France during the first twenty years of the century, is really the belief that the conscious states of mans being are not sufficient to explain him to himself and to others. His subconscious contains a larger and especially a more authentic or accurate part of his being. It was found that our conscious speech and our daily actions are usually in contradiction with our true selves and our deeper desires. The neat patterns of Human behavior, set forth by the realists, and which our lives seem to follow, were found to be patterns formed by social forces rather than by our desires or temperaments or inner psychological selves. This discovery or conviction that we are more sincerely revealed in our dreams and in our purely instinctive actions than in our daily exterior habits of behavior (tea drinking or cocktailing etc) is of course basic to surrealism. It is admirably summarized in a sentence of Andre Gide’s autobiography, Si le grain ne meurt, when he speaks of the difficulty of our knowing the real motivation of any of our actions. ‘le motif secret de nos actes nous echappe’ pg 15 Age of Surrealism Wallace Fowle, Bloomington a London, Indiana University Press, fourth printing 1966

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