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Surrealism in the Art and Literature Essay

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Updated: Nov 27th, 2021

At the beginning of the 20th century Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams with his view on human consciousness was published. His discoveries and the book itself became very popular. Naturally, the fact of a new age in science influenced the art of the time, which got a new stream – surrealism. Surrealism can certainly be considered as the most intellectual and provocative movement in the art (Brenner, 1997). Thus the works of literature can be analyzed from the point of view of the actions of the main characters made in the condition similar with the one when the person sleeps. The whole level of our consciousness is closed until the organism falls in the arms of Morpheus.

As I can see, the father of this movement was Andre Breton with his “The Manifesto of Surrealism ”, in which he provided a great number of specific terms. Among them the definition of Surrealism is also used as a depiction of the out-of-conscious reality. His poem “Free Union” can be understood as the most impressive and direct in the world of poetry.

We can say the same about the most prominent master of depiction of the surrealistic world, Gabriel Garcia Marques. He followed this movement inventing new methods of describing surrealism. So, the definition of Magical Realism appeared which we can observe in his short story “Death Constant beyond Love”. To the story of love for money and power he introduces the theme of Latin American. Marquez investigates the real life of Latin Americans through Magical Reality.

Let us pay attention to the tendency of artistic effort free from conscious control, which Breton meant as an indispensable element of Surrealism. The suggestion that by entering into the condition of trance or dream-like state the artist’s unconscious is revealed in a pure and unfiltered fashion simply appears naive today. That the “spontaneous” products Breton and his colleagues turned out took the form of highly-evolved poetic images, inconceivable without an extensive knowledge of literary technique and history, might have offered a hint that the states they entered into were hardly free of conscious suggestion (Brenner, 1997).

I am in two minds about this fact. Judging by the prominent usage of stylistic means in “Death Constant beyond Love”, we could hardly speak about the unconscious writing of this story. The name of the story itself seems to be thought over in detail. Death is the only constant thing in human lives. Even passionate real love can not save you from a powerful embrace of death. We see the story of Senator Sanchez, who got used to get everything he wanted. His passionate love to a young village girl makes him mad, concerning the fact of his coming death.

The title is obsessed with his feelings for Laura Farina but this is not the way out from his selfish life. Author indirectly shows us how rich and powerful people are lonely and unhappy indeed. They think that money can solve all the problems of their lives including the problem of loneliness. Such people pay a kind of price for their wealth. Sometimes the price is too high; and then the rich are ready to act in a very unpredictable manner in order to get rid of the sense of loneliness or some other feeling that disturbs them.

All the Senator intended to tempt that girl, all his self-confidence and force turned to be an illusion, a means of getting benefit, a weapon in the arms of a simple peasant. On the verge of meeting Death face to face, Senator Sanchez realizes what is really valuable in this life. He wants someone to be close to him, wants Laura to lie near, and wants to feel the warmth of human real relations and at the same time he thinks about lost time. The whole story transmits the tension of the moment.

How can we understand it? What exactly makes us think about the tragic end? If we try to analyze the details of this short story we will see, how the author managed to create this tension by using stylistic coloring. The names of villages and islands (Devil’s Island, Rosal del Virrey) give to the whole story unreal and ominous shade. In our consciousness it displays the impression of sorrow and makes us feel uncomfortable. The scene of a dying man who wants to carry out his cherished dream make us think about sense of life. I do not think, that everything here was written by chance. Only deep analysis of each fact and choosing the right form can give us such an impression.

Comparing this short-story with the poem by Andre Breton “Free Union” we can see an absolute contrast in the manner of presentation. The way he describes his wife gives us an impression of real love and respect. His means of showing that are the great number of epithets and constant repetition of the word-combination “my wife”.

Andre’s feelings to her we can imagine through psychic fixation, which he often uses in his works. We concentrate on the appearance of this woman, on her image. Reading that poem we try to imagine those “eyes full of tears with her eyes of violet armor and a speedometer needle” and understand the color and the deepness of her “savannah eye’s”, their caring and curing effect on the author which like “eyes of water to drink in prison“(Breton, 1993).It seems like stream of unconsciousness, but is it natural?

“To compare two objects as far distant as possible one from the other,” Breton insisted, “or, by any other method, to confront them in a brusque and striking manner, remains the highest task to which poetry can ever aspire” (Breton, 1990). The only thing I can assert is that writers managed to influence our unconsciousness, but their aim was to show their surreal gift.

Works Cited

Brenner, Frank and David Walsh. “.” 1997. World Socialist Web Site. Web.

Breton, Andre. Earthlight. Los Angeles: Sun & Moon Press, 1993.

Breton, Andre. The Communicating Vessels. Lincoln: The University of Nebraska Press, 1990.

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