- Series: Dover Fine Art, History of Art
- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: Dover Publications; 2nd Revised ed. edition (June 1, 1976)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0486232522
- ISBN-13: 978-0486232522
- Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 0.6 x 11 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 37 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #108,221 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Une Semaine De Bonte: A Surrealistic Novel in Collage Paperback – June 1, 1976
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Text: English, French (translation)
From the Back Cover
"One of the clandestine classics of our century."—The New York Times
This is the legendary collage masterpieces of Max Ernst (b. 1891), one of the leading figures of the surrealistic movement and among the most original artists of the 20th century. From old catalog and pulp novel illustrations, Ernst produced this series of 182 bizarre and darkly humorous collage scenes of classic dreams and erotic fantasies which seem mysteriously to lure the unconscious into view: Stern, proper-looking women sprout giant sets of wings, serpents appear in the drawing -room and bed chamber, a baron has the head of a lion, a parlor floor turns to water on which some people can apparently walk while others drown.
Une Semaine De Bonté is divided into seven parts, one for each day of the week, with each section illustrating one of Ernst's "seven deadly elements." "Oedipus," "The Court of the Dragon," and "Three Visible Poems" are among the startling episodes of Ernst's week. The Dada and surrealist epigraphs which introduce each section appear in this edition in both French and English.
Une Semaine De Bonté first appeared in 1934 in a series of five pamphlets of fewer than 1,000 copies each, and has never been reprinted before this present edition. Previously available only to a few libraries and collectors, this is a major source and great treat for anyone interested in the surrealists and their work, in collage, visual illusion, dream visions, and the interpretations of dreams.
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Then, at the narrative level, each image evokes some profound or baffling meaning. A lion-headed hero supervises a guillotining, or awaits his turn; women in dreamy deshabille sleep through flooding of their boudoirs; bat-winged matrons and falcon-headed men discourse in Victorian drawing rooms; collisions and juxtapositions of too many elements to name appear, page after page. But no image stands alone, each appears as one element of a sequential narrative. Things begin to break down at the sequence level, however. What exactly transpires, and why? Not just ambiguous, these series stand boldly and deliberately opaque, challenging the reader to assign any meaning whatsoever - neither confirming nor denying any that one might try to impose.
At the historical level, "Une Semaine" offers another range of potential interpretations. As image-based storytelling (and as a member of the wordless species within that genus), this stands squarely in a tradition with roots in the Lascaux caverns and a blossoming in today's effusion of graphic novels. It connects eighteenth century commercial engraving to some of the most radical and exploratory art of twentieth century surrealism. It moves away from the older narrative tradition, a visual retelling of myth or history well-known throughout the viewers' culture and education, into a more modern kind of involvement. That involvement demands that the viewer's understanding contribute as much to the story as the artists' image-building did - rather than an experience of cultural sharing, viewers all stand alone in their understanding of work.
Then, in its purely commercial aspect, this stands as another service that Dover has provided to the thoughtful reading community. The book itself sits well in the lap, plenty large enough for the reader to examine in detail. Like other Dover editions, it makes little-known works available in affordable, durable bindings with dense printing on opaque paper - visual bleed-through just doesn't happen. Admittedly, Ernst doesn't suit every taste (and barely suits mine). If you want a visual experience of marvel, challenge, and mystery, however, this will amply repay the time you spend with it.
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