SURREALIST CASE STUDIES
Literature, the Arts and Medicine.
by Clara Orban
(DePaul University, USA)
This work centers around the themes of disease, decay and medicine in surrealism. More specifically, it concerns surrealist writers or artists who were also either physicians or chronically ill patients. Three chapters of the text focus on André Breton, Louis Aragon and Jacques-André Boiffard. Both Breton and Aragon had extensive medical training and were simultaneously beginning a career writing poetry and prose. While Bretons work melds a scientific outlook and an artistic one, Aragons sexually explicit texts link the works of Sigmund Freud and those of the Marquis de Sade. For his part, Boiffard, a practicing radiologist, became interested in photography which had been linked to the x-ray, a relatively new invention at the time. The artistic work of these men was influenced by their backgrounds in the varying fields of science.
Another aspect of the text focuses on surrealists who were also patients. Paul Eluard and Frida Kahlo suffered all their lives with chronic illnesses. Eluard contracted tuberculosis as a young man and was plagued with respiratory problems. His poetry reflects this struggle in the rhythm of a body searching for (surrealist) breath. Kahlos long list of physical ailments became the centerpiece of her art and life. In the work of both of these artists, the part of the body that is broken appears glorified in their art.
Clara Orban completed her Ph.D. in Italian and French Studies at the University of Chicago in 1990. She has previously published three books and a number of articles. She is currently an Associate Professor of French and Italian at DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois.
HOME OUR CURRENT CATALOG HOW TO ORDER
NEW TITLES BY SERIES ACADEMIC PROPOSAL
AUTHOR GUIDE FICTION PROPOSAL
NEW TITLES BY COVERS