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Nadja (Penguin Twentieth Century Classics) [Paperback]

Andre Breton , Richard Howard
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
Price: £9.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Book Description

2 Sep 1999 Penguin Twentieth Century Classics
NADJA is a Surrealist romance, and has come to be known as a book which defined that movement's attitude towards life. With its blend of intimate confession and sense of the marvellous, NADJA weaves a myterious and compelling tapestry of daily life as seen through a magical perspective. Combining autobiographical fact with memory and imagination, Breton spins one of the most unusual love stories in modern literature.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (2 Sep 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141180897
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141180892
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 23,380 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Andre Breton, poet and writer, was the founder of the Surrealist movement in France, and is remembered as being its heart and soul. He died in 1966.

Mark Polizzotti is a writer and translator, and also works in an editorial capacity for David Godine Publishers in the US.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Who am I? If this once I were to rely on a proverb, then perhaps everything would amount to knowing whom I "haunt." Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most accessible surrealist texts 5 Dec 1999
This is one of the most important and underead books of the century. Standing alongside Joyce, Aragon and Durrell as a writer of place Breton writes of a Paris that is anti-monumental and anti-romantic by turns. This is not a gentle read. The relationship between the narrator and Najda leaves you stranded amoungst the disenchantment that is typical of surrealism, as opposed to the romanticism of popular-surrealism, whilst she ends up broken in an insane asylum he marvels at the surrealists survival. She 'lacked an instinct of self presevation...'
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nadja 19 Jun 2007
Books such as this, overflowing with ambiguity, should be approached two ways:

The first is with an open mind, at which in this instance, you are (providing Breton's rambling 60 page introduction doesn't bore you off) inevitably about to fall head over heels for the unusual, multi-faceted character; `Nadja'!

Yet what Nadja is; her identity, although alluring, is the voice in the back of our heads, that we silence each day that we participate in everyday life. She is the character that would not conform, freedom in purest essence, the presence that will leave shadows upon the lives of each person she meets, until inescapably stripped of her character by the ignorant minds who misinterpret her.

The second is, like I, to enter this auto-biographical account of Breton's genius with a question, which instead of reading in between the lines, you will undoubtedly find yourself falling into great crevices of self, where journeys seem to flow like underground rivers.

I recommend this book to anyone who is either looking for a good read, or seeking answers to the deepest journeys of identity and the world.
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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not surreal just poor 2 Oct 2009
By H. Tee
I spotted this book in the `cult classics' section of a local bookshop. I was immediately attracted to the surrealist cover (never judge a book by this) and the obvious inclusion throughout of old but interesting nonetheless b&w photos around Paris/France (around the period of the text 1920s). It is a short book even without about 30 sides of these stills. The introduction is very informative (almost biographical) about the author and his relationship with Nadja. Obvious point but I read the English translation so wouldn't be able to relate how good the original would be, or how badly the translation may or may not have contributed to the overall effect on the surrealist style of writing. For it's length the rrp at £10 is not cheap.

Now, I didn't find this a `surrealist' novel at all (I'm no literary expert or art critic) but it had no drama, colour, alternative perspectives or parallels - to be clear I wasn't expecting nonsense or some random thoughts but I hoped for a tale out of the ordinary - a Dali with words perhaps: it is not that sort of book. This is a book about an author trying to produce a new style of writing based on what was clearly a challenging relationship (a week of being 'in love') with the real Nadja. My problem and perhaps your problem if you have high expectations based on the 5 star reviews saying it is the `best example of' is that ultimately the style just comes across as plain poor and disconnected. I have never read a story where I felt I needed to re-read the previous sentence then decide I needed to go back to the previous then some more and so on;- it's not that it's difficult or thought-provoking, it's just disorganised and confusing. The story hidden within the soup of text isn't that good either.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very insightful 23 Dec 1997
By A Customer
Nadja is one of Breton's best works in the way that it portrays the male/female relationship within the surrealist movement. Nadja is both a source of entertainment and enlightenment for Breton, though I saw her more as another way of objectifying the female figure in surrealist work. I loved the description and concentration on Nadja's character. On the other hand, the first several chapters of the book are almost cumbersome to all who want to get into the 'meat' of the text (I found them interesting, but some of my colleagues didn't). One thing that I must say about this work is that I don't believe that it functions as a love story, though many people that review the text feel that it does. Instead, I see it more as an interesting snapshot of relationship issues (in a surreal light) but not necessarily love issues. Another masterful work by the leader of surrealism.
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7 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A terrible writer 7 Jun 2009
Breton is simply a very, very bad prose communicator, every single page has at least one paragraph that has to be read over and over again in order to make any sense of it. This is, in my opinion, not because what he is trying to say is so difficult, rather just a lack of disciplined editing, which creates a grinding read that just isn't worth the effort. Most people would be best served by first reading a Breton biography and then deciding what to do about the original texts.
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