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To defend Artaud is not to clear him of any “aberration of the mind,” but rather to acknowledge the range of his madness and the creative power which lies in it, and the fact that the cry of Artaud arises from the “caves of being.”

Responding to a question of Jean Laurent for La Tour de feu in December 1959, Breton presents Artaud not just as a leading authority, as he suggested since the beginning of the 1950’s, but as a leader brandishing a symbolic banner, to which young minds subscribe "forever."

Autograph manuscripts signed, Paris, September 23,1959.
- 2 pages folio in-4°, title in black pencil, manuscript signed in ink by Breton with erasures and corrections, of this interview of André Breton about Antonin Artaud for the review La Tour de feu. This manuscript contains the questions asked by the review and Breton’s answers, on the back of letterhead for the International Exhibition on Surrealism. ...

“Since I didn’t want to contradict him, I quickly moved on. But one morning – we were sitting alone at the terrace of the Café Deux-Magots – he summoned me, in the name of all that binds us, to confound those who contest the authenticity of this fact. I was then compelled to explain this point in specific terms (in order to offend him in least possible way), saying that, on that matter, my memories didn’t corroborate his. He looked at me with despair and with tears in his eyes, during a few endless seconds…

His deduction was that the occult forces from which a sense of acrimony had been unleashed, had succeeded in misleading my memory. When we happened to meet again, we never talked about it, but no doubt that I was greatly lowered in his estimation...”

“Artaud, shortly before he died, has been able to realize his extremely lucid work on Van Gogh, indisputably a work of art. The cry of Artaud – as the cry of Edouard Munch – arises from the “caves of being.” Forevermore young minds will identify with this scorched banner”. (Published in the issue 63-64 of the review La Tour de feu, December 1959)

- 2 pages folio in-4°, manuscript of the final version of this text, dated and signed in ink by Breton, on the back of letterhead for the International Exhibition on Surrealism.

- Letter from Jean Laurent – author of the questionnaire on Artaud – to André Breton (4 pages folio in-12°).

The letter from Jean Laurent belongs to the Pierre Boujut collection, the director of the review.


André Breton, in La Tour de feu, n° 63-64, décembre 1959.

André Breton (Édition publiée sous la direction d'Étienne-Alain Hubert avec la collaboration de Philippe Bernier et Marie-Claire Dumas), « André Breton parle d'Artaud pour La Tour de feu », Perspective cavalière, Œuvres complètes, tome IV, Écrits sur l'art et autres textes, Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, Paris, Gallimard, 2008, p. 981-983, notice p. 1424.


Creation date23/09/1959
Number of pages5 p.
Breton Auction, 2003Lot 2471
Keywords, ,
CategoriesLetters to André Breton, Andre Breton's Manuscripts
Set[AB's Manuscripts] Manuscripts 1958-1966
ExhibitionActivités surréalistes dans le quartier de Saint-Germain-des-prés
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See also

2 Works

[Un passage rue Fontaine m'a appris...]

Jean Laurent

Lettre de Jean Laurent à André Breton, datée de Noisy Le Sec, le 3 septembre 1959.

Quatre images, une notice descriptive


La Tour de feu


Numéro 63-64 de la revue La Tour de feu, paru en décembre 1959 et consacré à Antonin Artaud.

Deux images, une notice descriptive, un lien.