French writer (1896-1966) best known as the principal founder of Surrealism, an aesthetic of surprise, startling juxtapositions, and non sequiturs, which he defined in 1924 as “pure psychic automatism.” Breton intended Surrealism as a truly revolutionary movement not only in the visual arts and literature, but political thought and philosophy as well.
The quotation referenced by Franz is from Breton’s 1928 novel Nadja: “I myself shall continue living in my glass house where you can always see who comes to call, where everything hanging from the the ceiling and on the walls stays where it is as if by magic, where I sleep nights in a glass bed, under glass sheets, where who I am will sooner or later appear etched by a diamond.”
Kundera also refers to this Breton quote in The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, the novel he published just before Unbearable Lightness. Breton was also the source of the title for Kundera’s novel Life is Elsewhere, which is a quote from French poet Arthur Rimbaud that Breton used as the final sentence of a 1924 surrealist manifesto.
This photo was taken in Mexico in 1938, and cropped from one that includes his companions from that era, Diego Rivera and Leon Trotsky (see Bookmark, page 99).