The Collection

Home Page > Works > May I speak to you about Robert Desnos? Our meeting is already far in the distan...

May I speak to you about Robert Desnos? Our meeting is already far in the distance...

[About Robert Desnos]



Author André Breton
People cited Petrus Borel, Maximilien Robespierre, Robert Desnos, Paul Éluard, Philippe Soupault


A monologue, given in March 1959 for a documentary by Jean Barral shot in Breton's studio.

‘The man for the situation’ is how Breton retrospectively thought about Desnos at the time they met in 1922. This onehander interview, given in March 1959 for a documentary (La belle saison est proche) by Jean Barral was shot in Breton's studio and gives a very interesting commentary on surrealism’s early years. They were years when it still only existed ‘virtually’, to use Breton's expression - and about the character of Desnos, who died during the war and on whom the poet is afraid to look back for fear of being turned into a pillar of salt. [André Breton website, 2005]

Handwritten manuscript signed, Paris, March 14, 1959.
One page of this portrait of Robert Desnos, whom André Breton met in 1922, dated and signed by Breton in ink, with erasures and corrections:
‘...of them all, Desnos seemed to me a perfect fit when he offered to join us. He was then twenty-two years old (I was twenty-six). A great power of refusal and attack emanated from him, in striking dissonance - he was very dark, with a strangely distant gaze and the very veiled light blue eyes of a ‘waking sleeper’, if there ever was one. I don't think I'm disrespecting his memory by using the word ‘fanaticism’ about him, as I sometimes did with his approval... he is one of those who contributed most to giving surrealism its frenetic allure. From 1922 to 1929, these dispositions were manifested on two levels: that of dream activity, by an uninterrupted continuation of explorations that became more risky by the day, and that of human relations, in which he constantly assumed am aggressive posture... The memorable sleep sessions described in histories of surrealism took place in a studio on the floor above this one - its decor has hardly changed - under the essential impulse of Robert Desnos, which I first recounted in 1924 in my book The Lost Steps…’ (A. Breton. Perspective cavalière for a film by Jean Baral ‘La belle saison est proche’, June 1959). [catalogue of the sale 2003]

*This entry was translated from the French by Michael Richardson.


André Breton (Édition publiée sous la direction d'Étienne-Alain Hubert avec la collaboration de Philippe Bernier et Marie-Claire Dumas), Perspective cavalière, Œuvres complètes, tome IV, Écrits sur l'art et autres textes, Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, Paris, Gallimard, 2008, pages 978 à 980.


Creation date14/03/1959
Physical descriptionMs - encre noire

Bibliothèque littéraire Jacques Doucet, Paris : BRT 119

Number of pages2 feuillets in-4°
Breton Auction, 2003Lot 2467
Keywords, ,
CategoriesManuscripts, Andre Breton's Manuscripts
Set[AB's Manuscripts] Miscellaneous Manuscripts
Permanent link