Lost Profiles

Philippe Soupault

Published by City Lights Books, 2016
ISBN 10: 0872867277 / ISBN 13: 9780872867277
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Poet Alan Bernheimer provides a long overdue English translation of this French literary classic Lost Profiles is a retrospective of a crucial period in modernism, written by co-founder of the Surrealist Movement. Opening with a reminiscence of the international Dada movement in the late 1910s and its transformation into the beginnings of surrealism, Lost Profiles then proceeds to usher its readers into encounters with a variety of literary lions. We meet an elegant Marcel Proust, renting five adjoining rooms at an expensive hotel to "contain" the silence needed to produce Remembrance of Things Past; an exhausted James Joyce putting himself through grueling translation sessions for Finnegans Wake; and an enigmatic Apollinaire in search of the ultimate objet trouvé. Soupault sketches lively portraits of surrealist precursors like Pierre Reverdy and Blaise Cendrars, a moving account of his tragic fellow surrealist René Crevel, and the story of his unlikely friendship with right-wing anti-Vichy critic George Bernanos. The collection ends with essays on two modernist forerunners, Charles Baudelaire and Henri Rousseau. With an afterword by Ron Padgett recounting his meeting with Soupault in the mid 70's and a preface by André Breton biographer Mark Polizzotti, Lost Profiles confirms Soupault's place in the vanguard of twentieth-century literature.

"Philippe Soupault was a central figure in both the Dada and Surrealist movements but throughout his long life walked under no banner except the one of artistic freedom. In this previously untranslated book, he gives us a collection of richly remembered portraits of some of his best-loved friends from the old days of the new modernism. As a glimpse into that time, these lost portraits are invaluable and often deeply moving." Paul Auster, author of Report from the Interior

"Reading Alan Bernheimer's splendid translation of Soupault's memoir, I forgot that it was a translation, that it was Soupault writing or talking about another time, about his friends of one century past. I read myself into these vivid and virile (so, sue me!) assaults on time, and Time stopped." Andrei Codrescu, author of The Posthuman Dada Guide: Tzara and Lenin Play Chess

"Philippe Soupault was present at the creation of both Dada and Surrealism collaborating with André Breton to produce The Magnetic Fields, the first book of automatic writing before going his own way as a poet, novelist, and journalist. In this present volume, Soupault's fierce independence, deep wit, and generous heart shine through a set of sharply observed portraits of European writers fellow geniuses, most of them known to him personally. Alan Bernheimer's fine translation allows Soupault's vibrant voice to come to life in our time, and to reanimate in turn some of the greatest spirits of the past century's literature a marvelous and much-needed apparition." Andrew Joron, author of Trance Archive: New and Selected Poems

"In this dazzling book adroitly, smoothly & accurately translated by poet Alan Bernheimer poet & co-founder of Surrealism Philippe Soupault trains his great secret eye & ear to auscultate an astounding range of core 20th century literary figures he knew personally. And does so with serenity, humor & profound insight. Like none of the academic histories covering this period, no matter how well written and documented, this book makes you say as you devour it: 'Wish I had been there.' Enough said, I’m going to call René Crevel right now." Pierre Joris, author of Barzakh: Poems 2000-2012

Philippe Soupault (1897-1990) served in the French army during WWI and subsequently joined the Dada movement. In 1919, he collaborated with André Breton on the automatic text Les Champs magnétiques, launching the surrealist movement. In the years that followed, he wrote novels and journalism, directed Radio Tunis in Tunisia, and worked for UNESCO.


About the Author: A key poet of Parisian modernism, Philippe Soupault (1897-1990) served in the French army during WWI and subsequently joined the antirationalist Dada movement under the leadership of Tristan Tzara. With friends André Breton and Louis Aragon, Soupault co-founded the Dada journal Littérature. In 1919, Soupault collaborated with Breton on the automatic text Les Champs magnétiques, widely considered the foundation of the surrealist movement. He would remain with the movement until 1929, resigning over its increasing politicization. In the years that followed, he wrote novels and journalism, and directed Radio Tunis in Tunisia, where he was imprisoned by the Vichy government during WWII. After the war, he resumed his journalistic activities and also worked for UNESCO. In 1972 he was awarded the Grand Prix de Poésie by the French Academy and he lived long enough the assist with the first complete translation of Breton and his Magnetic Fields in 1985.

Poet Alan Bernheimer’s most recent collection is The Spoonlight Institute, published by Adventures in Poetry in 2009. He has lived in the Bay Area since the late 1970s, where he was active in Poets Theater and produced a radio program, In the American Tree,” of new writing by poets. He has translated works by Robert Desnos and Valery Larbaud.

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Title: Lost Profiles
Publisher: City Lights Books
Publication Date: 2016
Binding: PAP
Book Condition: New

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