Les Champs Magnétiques
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Les Champs Magnétiques (The Magnetic Fields) is a French novel by André Breton and Philippe Soupault. It is famed as the first work of literary Surrealism. Published in 1920, the authors used a surrealist automatic writing technique.
The book is considered Surrealist, rather than Dadaist, because it attempts to create something new rather than react to an existing work.
Les Champs Magnetiques is characterised by rich textured language that often seems to border on the nonsensical. This is considered a "normal" result of automatic writing and is considerably more logical than the output from other Surrealist techniques, such as exquisite corpse.
A typical paragraph in (an English-language version of) Les Champs Magnetiques is:
- The marvellous railway-stations never afford us shelter anymore: the long passages terrify us. So in order to go on living these monotonous minutes must still be stifled, these scraps of centuries. Once we loved the year's last sunny days, the narrow plains where our eyes' gaze flowed like those impetuous rives of our childhood. There remain nothing but reflections now in the woods repopulated with absurd animals, with well-known plants.
The division between chapters was the point where the writers stopped writing at the end of the day. The next chapter was started the following morning.
Breton gave many interviews about the creation of the book.
- The Magnetic Fields by Andre Breton and Philippe Soupault, translated and introduced by David Gascoyne: Atlas Press, London, 1985.