is a unique, exciting and important collection: There is no other
book like it anywhere! A landmark in the study of 20th century literature,
art and ideas, it is also full of imaginative writing at its best,
and fun to read.
first anthology in any language of writings by women active in
the surrealist movement, Surrealist Women shows how women's
contributions did much to shape surrealist ideas and activity
from the very beginning. Packed with information unavailable elsewhere,
Penelope Rosemont's superb introductions to each of the book's
six sections (and her headnotes to the individual selections)
tell the hidden story of surrealist women's impact on surrealism,
on the broader culture, on contemporary thought and behavior
chronologically, the book's almost 300 selections start with an
ecstatic dream-tale by Renée Gauthier, from the first issue
of the first surrealist journal, La Révolution surréaliste,
in 1924 (just after the publication of the first Surrealist
Manifesto). This is followed by fourteen other selections
by seven other women who took part in the formation of surrealism
in the 1920s. Later sections focus on the 1930s, the World War
II years, the Cold War (1946-1959), the worldwide surrealist explosion
during the Sixties, and a survey of surrealism around the world
refuting the popular delusion that surrealism was an "all-male"
movement, Surrealist Women also explodes the myth
that it was "mostly French." The anthology features writings by
97 women from nearly 30 countries. Most of the foreign-language
texts appear here in English translation for the first timefrom
the Spanish, Czech, German, Portuguese, Swedish, Dutch and Arabic,
as well as French. Also included are texts written in English
by some 20 women surrealists from Britain, Australia and the U.S.
the early 1930s on, many major figures of international surrealism
have come from Third World countries, including Suzanne Césaire
from Martinique, and Egyptian poet Joyce Mansour, but they are
rarely mentioned in U.S. studies of the movement. Nineteen women
from Africa, the African diaspora, the Middle East, and South
America are represented in Surrealist Women, most of them
for the first time in English.
anthology is also the first in English to recognize the exceptional
importance of the women surrealists of Eastern Europe. Eleven
are featured here, with an especially impressive contingent from
the Czech Republic.
Women is, in fact, the single largest anthology of surrealism
ever to appear in English. It includes 15 short stories, 145 poems,
and 93 essays, articles and interviewson art, politics,
poetry, play, social criticism, ethnography, mental illness, sexuality,
nature, and surrealism itself. Of particular interest are the
surrealist women's critiques of sexism, out-of-control technology,
and white supremacy. In some texts, surrealist poets, dancers,
photographers, painters, collagists, sculptors and film-makers
discuss their own and others' work. Also included are several
examples of surrealist games, from "Exquisite Corpse" to "Time-Travelers'
Women includes substantial selections by such well-known figures
as Leonora Carrington, Claude Cahun, Nancy Cunard, Nelly Kaplan,
Joyce Mansour, Meret Oppenheim, Valentine Penrose, Gisèle
Prassinos and Kay Sage. The great majority of writers in the anthology
are of course less-well-known, but all of themwithout exceptionhave
been important in surrealism. Readers will doubtless be
captivated by some of surrealism's "shooting stars"such
as the Englishwoman Sheila Legge, the "Surrealist Phantom" of
1936, the mysterious Czech poet Drahomira Vandas, and others who,
as Rosemont remarks, "made contributions to the movement out of
proportion to the brevity of their participation in it." Despite
the fact that more than half the women in this book have been
almost completely ignored by U.S. critics and historians, this
is in no sense a book of "minor characters."
many errors made by earlier researchers, highlighting surrealism's
basic open-endedness and relating the movement to other radical
cultural currentsincluding feminism, Marxism, anarchism,
Pan-Africanism, radical ecology and ecofeminismthis book
is a bright challenge to conventional wisdom, inviting readers
to regard surrealism in new ways.
Penelope Rosemont points out on the opening page, to ignore the
work of surrealism's women "is to ignore some of the best of surrealism."
To order Surealist Women: An International Anthology, click