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Arcanum 17 (Green Integer)

3.59  ·  Rating Details ·  132 Ratings  ·  8 Reviews

Considered radical at the time, today Breton’s ideas seem almost prescient, yet breathtaking in their passionate underlying belief in the indestructibility of life and the freedom of the human spirit. André Breton wrote Arcanum 17 during a trip to the Gaspé Peninsula in Quebec in the months after D-Day in 1944, when the Allied troops were liberating Occupied Europe. Usi

Paperback, 148 pages
Published April 1st 2004 by Green Integer (first published 1945)
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Joel Ortiz-Quintanilla
i read this years ago, when i was really knee deep in surrealism, i said to hell with american lit, it is all crap, i wanted something different, something that would make me think, and it lead me to dada and surrealism, i read mad love first, this has to be about 1995-1996, but i found a copy of this book, after i read mad love,and i liked it, i saw a common element, that each of his books were about different women and how much he loved them, a different book on a different woman, but arcanum ...more
Sep 18, 2014 Bob rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This a fluidly (un)structured hundred pages written in 1944 when the world looked pretty grim and Breton had exiled himself to North America. Combining philosophical musings on education, liberty and a rather essentialist view (repackaged by some contemporary commentators as feminist) of what women's role should be in society, with a series of poetic images, based on the tarot card of the title, the bird-covered Percé Rock, off coastal Quebec, various themes of loss and redemption, the work is a ...more
Francesca M
Feb 15, 2017 Francesca M rated it really liked it
What to say? I love surrealism and André Breton in particular, so my judgement could be a bit biased. Nevertheless, as a matter of fact, this was a great piece of work.

In particular Breton description of the natural landscape of Percé Rock and his reflections on the meaning of liberty, education, the role of women in the society and the absurdity of war are so modern, beautifully written and revealing that I couldn't help reading some of the pages two of three times. Wonderful!!!
3 stars (2 for enjoyment and a bump for intelligence and wonderfully lyrical prose).

Breton's Arcanum 17 is essentially a long essay in which he muses about love, loss, war, feminism, and a number of other things. Inspired by the image of the Perce Rock in Quebec, he uses this vision as a metaphor for a range of topics. The book itself was barely larger than my cellphone and only 133 pages (with additional pages for an intro and other material) but it took me over two weeks to read. This is one o
Jun 24, 2014 Mike rated it liked it
Shelves: books-owned
An odd, rambling account of political liberty, womanhood, and natural beauty. Beautifully written at times, but also obscure and personal. Some sections read like a string of Joycean epiphanies loosely connected to the book's themes, while other sections read like a political manifesto. I feel as if I may have had a stronger connection to the work if I had been reading it at a certain time in my life--or perhaps if I had lived through that moment in history between the wars upon which Breton was ...more
Andre Breton is one of those deep thinkers and his writing is such that it is not easily understandable. You have to take every sentence and break it down in order to get the exact meaning of what he is trying to communicate. The only way I found out what this book was about is by reading the translator's introduction. For that reason, I am giving this book 2 stars and I doubt that I would read anything else that he has written.
Aug 31, 2007 Andrew rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: probably you or you or you
a marvelous work!
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André Breton was a French writer, poet, and surrealist theorist, and is best known as the principal founder of Surrealism. His writings include the Surrealist Manifesto (Manifeste du surréalisme) of 1924, in which he defined surrealism as "pure psychic automatism".
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“Today's education is entirely defective to the extent that, calling itself positivist, it begins with abusing the child's trust by presenting as true what is only either a temporary phenomenon or a hypothesis, when it's not a blatant untruth; and to the extent that it prevents children from forming in good time their own opinions by creasing into them certain habits that make their freedom of judgement an illusion” 6 likes
“A woman's hand, your hand in its starry paleness only to help you walk downstairs, refracts its beam into my own. Its slightest touch branches out inside me and in a moment will trace above us those delicate canopies where the inverted sky stirs its blue leaves with misty aspen or willow. As for me, to what do I actually owe this remission of a pain that so many others suffer because of less guilt than I feel today? Before I met you I'd known misfortune, despair. Before I met you, come on, those words mean nothing. You know very well that when I first laid eyes on you I recognized you without the slightest hesitation. And from what borders did you come, so fearfully protected against everyone, what initiation to which no one or almost no one was admitted has consecrated what you are.” 2 likes
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