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A Book of Surrealist Games Paperback – July 4, 1995
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Surrealism is far more than some dead art movement: it is also a collection of tools for perceiving and representing the world in ways that transcend normative perspectives. This delightful little book is packed with word and image games that surrealists developed to create their written and graphical art. If you have any spark of creativity, you are strongly encouraged to get this book to help loosen the holds of quotidian existence on your craft. And it makes a great book of activities for parties that you want to rise above petite bourgeois posturing. Highly Recommended.
"Of great value to teachers, comedy writers and other problem-solvers, this is an illustrated compendium of ways to be inventive, humorous or absurd through irresponsibility or 'planned incongruity.'"— Ballast Quarterly Review
"This extraordinary collection of word games, visual tricks and intellectual assaults on the conventional is a treasure trove of the artistic and socio-linguistic conundrums which the Surrealists—Andre Breton, Tristan Tzara and their associates—cultivated from the 1920s onwards. Its compiler, Alastair Brotchie, is to be congratulated for salvaging such fascinating if recondite material from the various obscure journals in which it first appeared."— The Spectator
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Top customer reviews
The exercises in this book are terrific. A highlight is "Directions For Use," which asks writers to come up with ordered directions for an object or an idea as if it were a product available for purchase. I taught a 4th-grade writing lesson in which I wrote down a bunch of random, abstract things (love, frustration, Medieval England, twisting your ankle, etc.) on small pieces of paper and had the kids choose them out of a hat. The results were hilarious, and produced some of the students' proudest work.
They also composed surreal questions and answers, in which students would write a question on one side of an index card, then have a partner answer it, unseen, on the other side. Results include:
Do I have 261,000 cats?
Do you like knitting?
Raccoons with rabies.
You might even say the prompts in this book will work even for students who aren't "good" at writing, or who are intimidated by it. Everyone, regardless of skill level, composition ability, spelling, or whatever else can find a way to participate.
(Caveat emptor: those sensitive to having God and religion mocked, or running into the occasional racial slur—this being a compilation of older documents—may be offended by some this book's content. For that reason, I'd recommend it as a teacher's reference only, and not a book for the class to read.)
Even if you don't intend to do these games, it's a great read to learn about collaborative, stream of conscious Surrealist practice.
If you want to know more about Surrealism, but just want to dip your toes into those mysterious waters at first, this is as good a starting place as any you'll find. The ideas of surprising juxtapositions, unexpected connections, and the sense of freedom & revelation through absurdity & chance, are all demonstrated here. And if you enjoy this first taste, then you'll almost certainly want more ...
Recommended as both an unusual diversion & a window into another world!