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Surrealism and Quebec Literature

Surrealism and Quebec Literature

Translated by Mark Czarnecki
Series: Heritage
Copyright Date: 1984
Pages: 378
  • Book Info
    Surrealism and Quebec Literature
    Book Description:

    In manifestos, poems, articles, and theatre pieces Bourassa examines the nature of Quebec surrealism and its international context.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-3229-5
    Subjects: History, Language & Literature, Anthropology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Author’s Note
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Translator’s Note
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xvi)

    Entering the Collége Sainte-Marie, or any other collége classique,* used to be a very expensive way for young students like myself to join the ‘elite.’ Fortunately, however, we were also provided with a unique opportunity to make contact with the teeming, virtually clandestine world of downtown Montreal’s artists. We quickly learned that the textbook store, run by an old friar, contained only new books and was prohibitively expensive, so we had to rely on the services of more secular outlets pointed out to us by older students. The closest and best known was the Librairie Tranquille on Sainte-Catherine Street.


  6. [Illustrations]
    (pp. xvii-2)
  7. 1 Precursors
    (pp. 3-38)

    This study of the surrealist revolution begins with an exploration of its romantic, cubo-futurist, and dadaist precursors for two reasons:² first, it is difficult to deal with a cultural revolution of this importance without situating it in time and space; second, except for a few scattered articles, very little has been written on the pre-surrealist revolutions in Quebec and so no complete study of the subject has yet been available. Such an approach brings together authors who have rarely been discussed as a group before. They have in common the fact that they participated in the evolution of Quebec culture...

  8. 2 From Painting to Poetry
    (pp. 39-79)

    The story of surrealism in Quebec really begins during the Second World War, which suddenly displaced many artists. Some Québécois had to flee occupied France and return home; others served in Europe, where they came in contact with various international movements. A number of European surrealists were forced into exile in North America, mainly in Martinique, Mexico, and New York, where surrealism entered its third and final stage. The war therefore provided the first opportunity for surrealists from both continents to get together.

    The return of the painter Alfred Pellan to Quebec in 1940 was a significant event, all the...

  9. 3 Refus global
    (pp. 80-155)

    The end of the war reopened international communications for artists and writers. Paris again became the meeting place for the surrealists, attracting among others Quebec automatists like Jean-Paul Riopelle, Thérèse Renaud, Fernand Leduc and, later, Paul-Emile Borduas and Marcelle Ferron. But the relocation by Riopelle, Borduas, and others was not due to the attractive force of Paris alone. There was also a centrifugal force operating in Quebec, namely Duplessism, a term referring to the alliance of a clerical and a conservative nationalist power under the political authority of Maurice Duplessis, who had been re-elected several times. These two powers were...

  10. 4 New Movements
    (pp. 156-204)

    The automatists were not the only ones in Quebec to claim kinship with the surrealist revolution. Gradually, another group took shape until it came out in 1948 with a manifesto,Prisme d’yeux, and two shows: the first near the Museum of Fine Arts and the second at Tranquille’s. Although the manifesto’s tide and the fact that its initiator was Pellan indicate cubist influences,² several of the signatories were later found hi the revolutionary surrealist movement. Their shared experiences in the interim included their collaboration on the third issue ofLes Ateliers d’arts graphiquesand the periodicalPlace publique(published by...

  11. 5 Further Downstream
    (pp. 205-260)

    Pellan left Montreal for Paris in 1952 and in 1953 Borduas left too, first to New York and then to Paris. In so doing they joined an impressive list of people exiled by the increasingly repressive climate of the fifties.

    Once the two masters were gone, the polarities of influence changed. Between 1953 and 1963 appeared a new generation which called surrealism into question: even though it was discussed and experiments continued, surrealism was no longer taken for granted. One centre of activity, the group around the publishing house l’Hexagone, had few links with the surrealist movement in general, but...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 261-266)

    It can now be stated authoritatively that surrealism has had a profound influence in Quebec and that it even acquired connotations peculiar to Quebec.

    Between the wars, the surrealists became known to Québécois living in France (Alfred Pellan and Alain Grandbois among others) and were known to the readers of LaNouvelle Revue FrançaiseandMinotaurein Quebec. Some Québécois met the surrealists at gatherings and exhibitions held in New York during the Second World War.

    Paul-Emile Borduas’ group in particular was greatly influenced by the New York surrealist periodicalsVVVandHémisphères, and the automatists also took advantage of...

  13. Translator’s Notes
    (pp. 267-274)
  14. Author’s Notes
    (pp. 275-332)
  15. Chronology
    (pp. 333-342)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 343-366)
  17. Index
    (pp. 367-374)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 375-377)