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Surrealism in Latin American Literature: Searching for by M. Nicholson

By M. Nicholson

Charting surrealism in Latin American literature from its preliminary visual appeal in Argentina in 1928 to the surrealist-inspired paintings of a number of writers within the Seventies, Melanie Nicholson argues that surrealism has exercised an important and optimistic effect over twentieth-century Latin American literature, quite poetry.

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Characteristically in this text—and for some, maddeningly—Breton remained constant to the ideal of reconciling the antipodal points of thought and action, freedom of the spirit and betterment of the material conditions of life. In Communicating Vessels, he would proclaim that the poet of the future “will surmount the depressing idea of an irreparable divorce between action and dream” (147). But in spite of Breton’s fervent hope, this “depressing idea” would continue to haunt the surrealists, both in Europe and abroad.

The Spanish critic Guillermo de Torre recalls the situation with a certain poignancy: “One faced an unavoidable dilemma: relinquish the free interpretation and translation of the world, or relinquish participation, in the sphere of practical action, in the transformation of the world” (394). Breton joined the Communist Party in 1929. His solution to the dilemma, for as long as it proved workable, was to continue his surrealist activity in an autonomous sphere, all the while proclaiming the movement’s support for the Revolution.

I note finally that the dialectical consciousness itself—that is, the desire for a synthesis of opposites and the awareness of synthesis as a perpetually unstable 24 O Surrealism in Latin American Literature condition—is a concern of much surrealist poetry, one that is interwoven into the themes of love, liberty, and poetry. As Caws notes, “Surrealism is based on a permanent movement of unification, in which the distance between the perceiver and the perceived, reality and the imagined, the abstract and the concrete, thought and the illogical image is drastically reduced and even, under ideal conditions, suppressed altogether” (Poetryy 205).

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