Edge of Surrealism
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Edge of Surrealism : A Roger Caillois Reader

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The Edge of Surrealism is an essential introduction to the writing of French social theorist Roger Caillois. Caillois was part of the Surrealist avant-garde and in the 1930s founded the College of Sociology with Georges Bataille and Michel Leiris. He spent his life exploring issues raised by this famous group and by Surrealism itself. Though his subjects were diverse, Caillois focused on concerns crucial to modern intellectual life, and his essays offer a unique perspective on many of twentieth-century France's most significant intellectual movements and figures. Including a masterful introductory essay by Claudine Frank situating his work in the context of his life and intellectual milieu, this anthology is the first comprehensive introduction to Caillois's work to appear in any language. These thirty-two essays with commentaries strike a balance between Caillois's political and theoretical writings and between his better known works, such as the popular essays on the praying mantis, myth, and mimicry, and his lesser-known pieces.Presenting several new pieces and drawing on interviews and unpublished correspondence, this book reveals Caillois's consistent effort to reconcile intellectual rigor and imaginative adventure. Perhaps most importantly, The Edge of Surrealism provides an overdue look at how Caillois's intellectual project intersected with the work of Georges Bataille and others including Breton, Bachelard, Benjamin, Lacan, and Levi-Strauss.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 440 pages
  • 152.4 x 228.6 x 30.48mm | 476.27g
  • Duke University Press
  • North Carolina, United States
  • English
  • 0822330687
  • 9780822330684
  • 311,269

Review quote

"Roger Caillois has remained relatively unknown in the English-speaking world. This superb selection of his essays, expertly translated, shows the full range of his thought and should place him next to Bataille and the Surrealists as a major intellectual figure in interwar and postwar France. Claudine Frank's general introduction and detailed commentaries on individual essays provide the necessary contexts for understanding this complex, often paradoxical thinker. A first-rate work that is sure to be of interest to all students of 20th-century French thought."-Susan Rubin Suleiman, author of Risking Who One Is: Encounters with Contemporary Art and Literature "The Edge of Surrealism is the Caillois in one volume that is so badly needed considering the very dispersed status of Caillois's work and that no such volume exists in any language, not even in France. This selection is excellent, done by someone who not only knows thoroughly the production of the author but knows also what's most relevant for our contemporary interests."-Denis Hollier, author of Absent without Leave: French Literature under the Threat of Warshow more

About Roger Caillois

Roger Caillois (1913-1978) was a French social theorist and writer. Claudine Frank is Assistant Professor of French at Barnard College.show more

Back cover copy

"Roger Caillois has remained relatively unknown in the English-speaking world. This superb selection of his essays, expertly translated, shows the full range of his thought and should place him next to Bataille and the Surrealists as a major intellectual figure in interwar and postwar France. Claudine Frank's general introduction and detailed commentaries on individual essays provide the necessary contexts for understanding this complex, often paradoxical thinker. A first-rate work that is sure to be of interest to all students of 20th-century French thought."--Susan Rubin Suleiman, author of" Risking Who One Is: Encounters with Contemporary Art and Literature"show more

Table of contents

Acknowledgments ix Introduction 1 I. Theory and the Thirties, 1934-1939 Surrealism and Its Environs 1. Testimony (Paul Eluard) 59 2. The Praying Mantis: From Biology to Psychoanalysis 66 3. Letter to Andre Breton; Literature in Crisis 82 4. Mimicry and Legendary Psychasthenia 89 Biology and Myth 5. Review of L'Homme, cet inconnu, by Dr. Alexis Carrel 107 6. The Function of Myth 110 7. The Noon Complex 124 8. For a Militant Orthodoxy: The Immediate Tasks of Modern Thought 130 Lucifer at the College of Sociology 9. Interview with Gilles Lapouge, June 1970 141 10. First Lecture: Sacred Sociology and the Relationships among "Society," "Organism," and "Being" 147 11. Dionysian Virtues 155 12. Aggressiveness as a Value 160 13. The Birth of Lucifer 166 14. Paris, a Modern Myth 173 15. Sociology of the Intellectual 190 II. Writing from Patagonia, 1940-1945 After the College 16. Preamble to the Spirit of Sects 205 17. Discussions of Sociological Topics: On "Defense of the Republic" 213 18. The Nature and Structure of Totalitarian Regimes 217 Treasure and Culture 19. Duties and Privileges of French Writers Abroad 235 20. Patagonia 240 21. The Myth of Secret Treasures in Childhood 252 22. The Situation of Poetry 262 23. Pythian Heritage (On the Nature of Poetic Inspiration) 268 III. Postwar Stances, 1946-1978 The Moralists 24. Loyola to the Rescue of Marx 279 25. Paroxysms of Society 284 26. Metamorphoses of Hell 298 Signs and Images 27. The Image 315 28. Fruitful Ambiguity 320 29. Surrealism as a World of Signs 326 Diagonal Science 30 The Great Bridgemaker 337 31. A New Plea for Diagonal Science 343 32. The Natural Fantastic 348 Roger Caillois Timeline 359 Notes 363 Bibliography 401 Index 415show more

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33 ratings
4.42 out of 5 stars
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3 6% (2)
2 0% (0)
1 3% (1)
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