Robert Desnos


Translated and introduced by Terry Hale.

Mystery, the marvellous, the city of Paris transmuted by love, and Sanglot the Corsair’s pursuit of the siren Louise Lame: these are the essential ingredients of this masterpiece of early Surrealism. It was originally published in 1924 to immediate and lasting acclaim — except from the public authorities who immediately censored whole sections (here restored).

How describe a novel of such virtuosity and bravura, which never behaves as one would expect? Characters appear and vanish according to whim and desire, they walk underwater, nonchalantly accept astounding coincidences. It’s a hymn to the erotic, an adventure story illumined by the shades of Sade, Lautréamont and Jack the Ripper, a dream at once violent and tender, in fact the perfect embodiment of the Surrealist spirit: joyful, despairing, and effortlessly scandalous.

Desnos was one of the earliest members of the Paris Surrealist group. His remarkable talents first emerged during the “Period of Sleeping Fits”, when the group was investigating unconscious and trance states. Able to put himself in trance at will, he would pour out sonnets, prophecies, enigmatic drawings. “Desnos more than any of us got closest to the Surrealist truth,” wrote Breton in their first manifesto.

An active member of the Resistance, Desnos died of typhus two weeks after his liberation from the Nazi concentration camp at Terezin.

Atlas Anti-classic 16,  a reprint of the edition of 1991, and Mourning for Mourning from Anti-Classic 1, The Automatic Muse, 1994.

See reviews.


2012, ISBN: 978-1-900565-45-5, 176pp, hardback with decorated endpapers.
SKU: 978-1-900565-45-5 Category:

Additional information

Weight .43 kg
Dimensions 17.5 × 19.5 cm