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Spector, J.J. (1989). André Breton and the Politics of the Dream: Surrealism in Paris, ca. 1918–1924. Am. Imago, 46(4):287-317.

(1989). American Imago, 46(4):287-317

André Breton and the Politics of the Dream: Surrealism in Paris, ca. 1918–1924

Jack J. Spector, Ph.D.

In April 1922 three poets destined to dominate the Surrealist movement announced that their preferred occupation was “to sleep” (Louis Aragon, Paul Eluard) or “to dream while sleeping” (André Breton).1 In various avant-garde publications that he edited, Breton printed accounts of several of his dreams. He was not primarily interested in the latent content of these dreams, but rather in using them to create a new aesthetic, transforming them into uncategorizable poetry. In addition, he used his dream material to promulgate his evolving philosophy of art, a philosophy later expressed more overtly in his Surrealist manifestoes.

The attempt that follows to analyze Breton's dreams without his accompanying associations seems justified because these dreams constitute prime examples of what Freud called “dreams from above” whose real significance lay in their intention to make a specific intellectual point.2 Freud reported several instances of such dreams produced by his patients who had the specific goal of disproving (his) Freud's evolving psychoanalytic dream theory.3

The contribution of Freud's theory of dream interpretation whether direct or indirect to the interest in dreams expressed by Breton and his colleagues during this period is generally accepted;4 concomitantly, Freud's technique of free association, intended to circumvent the mind's censorship, especially in recounting one's dreams, appealed to avant-garde writers.5

While

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