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Revolution of the Mind: The Life of Andre Breton Paperback – 1 Dec 2008


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Product details

  • Paperback: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Black Widow Press; Revised edition (1 Dec 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0979513782
  • ISBN-13: 978-0979513787
  • Product Dimensions: 18.2 x 4.5 x 23.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 584,275 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By J. S. Inman on 17 July 2007
Format: Hardcover
I have very mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand Polizzotti gives us a comprehensive and usually factually accurate biography of Breton, the only one in English. On the other hand he rarely engages with Breton's work intellectually in any depth and his understanding of surrealism is limited. He also accepts Jean Schuster's (false) claim that surrealism ended in 1969. A final grumble, something I felt when I first read the book, but articulated by Robert Short, there is a strange sense that Polizzotti overplays the down side of every event, giving a rather depressing atmosphere to the book.
Despite my reservations I have to recommend the book to anybody who is interested in surrealism or Breton. It is a major source of facts and an engrossing read. It would have benefitted from more photographs and a proper bibliography rather than just the extensive notes field at the end of the book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 9 reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
The best bio I have ever read! 30 Jun 1996
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I'd been interested in the Surrealists for years, and when I
saw that Mark Polizzotti, a translator I had admired for
years, had written one about the pope of Surrealism, Andre
Breton, I knew that I must have it! From the first page,
Polizzotti has you; informative, insightful, and mostly, very
entertaining and stimulating. I thought that I knew most of
the great stories of the movement and its contributors, but I
was shocked: there are surprises everywhere. Quite simply:
read this book, it will change you, and perhaps change the way
think and perceive. Breton was of the the century's great thinkers
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Best book about André Breton and Surrealism 14 July 2004
By Babak Andishmand - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book is the best book about André Breton, it gives a good picture of the time in wich André Breton and hes friends lived.
Inspite of what many people say, this book does not reflect Breton as a bad tempered man in the negative sense. Breton had verry good reason for conflicts with certain people. Mark Pollizoti did a good job on research by talking to Bretons friends and looking in certain documents and letters. It shows André Breton exactly as he was and as he is described in the book. The revolutionaire leader who tried to change life and was loved as men loved women.
The fact that this is strangely the first good book about such a Revolutionairy man who made such a difference in the way we look at life, compensates with the content wich is verry deep and shows an insight in what happend during the years before, during and after the movement.
I recommend people to read this book after they have read books on surrealism and the movement.
Mark Pollizoti's years of research have proven to be worthy.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
The Best Book On Breton 19 Mar 2000
By Jay Marvin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
One of the best books on Breton and the French Surrealists. I was sorry when I got to the end. How many books can you say that about? A Must read!
10 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Informative, But Fatally Flawed By Its Negative Bias 8 Mar 2004
By Carnamagos - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
If Polizzotti's biography of Breton is any indication, then it is plain that Anglophones--noteworthy for producing the most risibly stupid critical writing on Surrealism since almost the movement's inception--are indeed fated to understand neither Surrealism nor Breton (By the way, thanks, kurtscar, for reminding us by example that that ignoble critical tradition is alive and well).

Breton's achievements should be obvious even to an idiot, and they require no defense from anyone. As to his personal foibles, they have always been well-documented, and one would expect no less from a serious biography of the man. What exposes Polizzotti's obvious bias, however, is the fact that, even when recounting episodes where Breton is far from being clearly at fault, Polizzotti invariably takes the negative side. Never once does his biographer give Breton the benefit of the doubt.

One can only speculate as to the reasons for this negative bias, but I suspect that it arises at least in part from the Post-Modernist perspective, a viewpoint that can scarcely imagine the existence of individuals in the arts who adhere passionately to convictions and personal principles beyond their own careerism and self-promotion. Indeed, one of the only valuable aspects of this biography is its clear presentation of Breton as a man who, as a matter of personal conviction, lived largely in poverty for the better part of his life, indifferent to Warholian money-grubbing and fashion. One suspects that this fact bothers Polizzotti and others of that ilk. For that reason, we see Polizzotti taking the opportunity to vent his resentment of such an individual, while simultaneously--and in good PoMo fashion--making a hypocritical and parasitic buck off his "host".

Aside: How this man earned the trust of Elisa Breton, Andre's widow, to the extent of convincing her to waive the clause in Breton's will stipulating that his personal papers be sealed until fifty years after his death, I shall never understand. I dare say that she never would have consented had she known of the hatchet job that was in store.

In sum, I urge readers to avoid this book on principle. Despite its unbalanced portrait, however, the book does contain much material that is unavailable to those who read only English; hence the two stars. Those who read French, however, should definitely first look elsewhere for a balanced treatment of the subject, and then look here, perhaps, only for the information afforded by the unsealing of Breton's papers.
Life, Love and Revolution 15 Nov 2001
By stephen liem - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When Aube (Breton's only child) was very young, Breton told her that someday he will tell and teach her anything she wants to know about "life, love and revolution". Indeed these can be described as the essence of Breton's colorful, and dramatic life. Plozzotti has not only told us aboiut the history of Surrealism, but also told us about how Breton started, and eventually controlled every aspect of this movement. Excellent book. Highly recommended.
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