A series of personal and historical encounters with surrealism from one of its foremost practitioners in the United States.
"Penelope Rosemont has given us, better than anyone else in the English language, a marvelous, meticulous exploration of the surrealist experience, in all its infinite variety."—Gerome Kamrowski, American Surrealist Painter
One of the hallmarks of Surrealism is the encounter, often by chance, with a key person, place, or object through a trajectory no one could have predicted. Penelope Rosemont draws on a lifetime of such experiences in her collection of essays, Surrealism: Inside the Magnetic Fields. From her youthful forays as a radical-student in Chicago to her pivotal meeting with André Breton and the Surrealist Movement in Paris, Rosemont—one of the movement's leading exponents in the United States—documents her unending search for the marvelous and the avant-garde.
Surrealism finds her rubbing shoulders with some of the movement's most important visual artists, such as Man Ray, Leonora Carrington, Mimi Parent, and Toyen; discussing politics and spectacle with Guy Debord; and crossing paths with poet Ted Joans and outsider artist Lee Godie. The book also includes scholarly investigations into American radicals like George Francis Train and Mary MacLane, the myth of the Golden Goose, and Dada precursor Emmy Hennings.
Praise for Surrealism:
"Speaking of the Parisian surrealists that she and Franklin Rosemont met in Paris during their visit in 1965-66, Penelope describes them as 'overflowing with poetry, beauty, humor, excitement and life.' Every word applies to this book, a fascinating collection of essays, diary notes, and surrealist reflections. When writing about André Breton and his friends, or about the marvelous surrealist women artists Toyen, Mimi Parent, Leonora Carrington or Jayne Cortez, Penny Rosemont is not delivering dry abstractions, as so many academic "specialists," but telling us about warm and exciting human encounters, illuminated by the subversive spirit of Permanent Enchantment."––Michael Löwy, author of Redemption and Utopia and Fire Alarm
"This compelling and well-drawn book lets us see the adventures, inspirations, and relationships that have shaped Penelope Rosemont's art and rebellion."––David Roediger, author of Class, Race, and Marxism
"Anyone seeking to understand contemporary surrealism or the history of surrealism in America and beyond should make their way at once to this book. Penelope Rosemont's remarkable life and legendary body of work lies centrally at the crossroads of surrealism then and now. The broad sampling of essays included here offer a compelling entry point for curious readers and an essential compendium for surrealist practitioners."––Abigail Susik, professor of art history, Willamette University
"Reading Rosemont is like being led by an enchanted guide through the wild fields of Surrealism. Around her neck must be a double lens made out of telescope and magnifying glass through which she studies this glowing, breathless landscape. Artist, historian, and social activist, Rosemont writes from the inside out. Like a rare, hybrid flower growing out of the earth, she complicates, expands, and opens the strange and beautiful meadow where Surrealism continues to live and thrive."––Sabrina Orah Mark, author of Wild Milk
"In this wide-ranging collection of essays, Penelope Rosemont, long a keeper of surrealism's revolutionary flame, shows how a penetrating look into the past can liberate the future. With humor and passion, Rosemont tells the story both of her own engagement with surrealism and of surrealism's relevance to the struggle for social and psychic transformation. Whether addressed to feminism, anarchism, the black power movement, or visual art and poetry, Rosemont's writing, like surrealism itself, sets fire to everything it touches."––Andrew Joron, author of The Absolute Letter
"The looming centenary of Surrealism will be greeted by a boatload of publications, but few will be as heartfelt, spirited, and teeming with the atmosphere conjured by Penelope Rosemont. Her welcome memoir has a double virtue, as testament to the enduring radiance of Surrealism, and as a memento to the Sixties, revealing a sweetly beating wonderment at the heart of that absurdly maligned decade."––Jed Rasula, author of Destruction Was My Beatrice: Dada and the Unmaking of the Twentieth Century
"Written with the quickness, candor, and delight of encounter, Penelope Rosemont's Surrealism: Inside the Magnetic Fields brings surrealism's central figures, Leonora Carrington, Man Ray, Toyen, Andre Breton et al into our field of experience, and out of the stasis of photography and film, where most of us have glimpsed them. Most thrilling, perhaps, is the 60’s mimeo-magazine-making coterie of Rosemont and her friends, seeking revolution, disorientation, anything but the banality of the American Midwestern plains. Quite naturally possessing what she calls 'remnants of my healthy beatnik hedonism,' Rosemont recreates the feverish antics and immediate reception her close-knit, sleep-deprived, beat-attired squad find in the established, moray-breaking Parisian and international surrealists. Revolution is here, between the covers. Anyone who opens this book is invited to the journey, the party, the radicalism that 'must not be grim but a liberation, an increase of pleasure. Otherwise what is the point of it?'"––Gillian Conoley, author of A Little More Red Sun on the Human: New and Selected Poems and translator of Thousand Times Broken: Three Books by Henri Michaux
"Penelope Rosemont recounts her chance encounters with surrealists in Paris, leading her to a life-long adventure in surrealist praxes. These included (and still do!) sharing poetry, stories, art, and games of objective chance with kindred spirits around the globe, some of which she shares with us in these magical pages. As surrealists, we live our lives not as today's external world demands but as our own inner dreams, desires, and imaginations lead. We demand nothing less than the impossible not in some distant utopian future but right here, right now."––Gale Ahrens, author of Lucy Parsons: Freedom, Equality & Solidarity