Break of Day
Publication Date: September 1999
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
Originally published in France in 1934, Break of Day is André Breton’s second collection of critical and polemical essays, following The Lost Steps (Nebraska 1996). In fewer than two hundred pages, it captures the first full decade of the surrealist movement. The collection opens with an essay composed in 1924 that examines key elements of surrealism and concludes with Breton’s harsh revaluation in 1933 of automatic writing. Among the other essays in the volume are “Burial Denied” and “In Self-Defense,” two pieces that, in translator Mark Polizzotti’s words, “mark surrealism’s conscious break from the mainstream and the beginning of its attempts to work alongside the French Communist Party.” Also included are “Psychiatry Standing before Surrealism,” which addresses Breton’s complex, ambivalent views on mental illness and the emerging psychiatric establishment; “Introduction to Achim von Arnim's Strange Tales,” which reveals surrealism’s debt to such precursors as the German romantics and delineates a surrealistic aesthetic of the macabre; and “Picasso in His Element,” in which Breton demonstrates his formidable talents as a critic of the visual arts.
Mark Polizzotti is the editorial director of David R. Godine, Inc. He is the translator of numerous works and the author of Revolution of the Mind: The Life of André Breton. Mary Ann Caws is Distinguished Professor of English, French, and Comparative Literature at the Graduate School of the City University of New York and the author or editor of some forty-one books, most recently The Surrealist Look: An Erotics of Encounter.