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Andre Breton was born in Normandy, France on 19, 1896 and died on September 28, 1966. Breton was a poet, novelist, philosophical essayist, and art critic. He is considered to be the father of surrealism. From World War I to the 1940s, Breton was at the forefront of the numerous avant-garde activities that centered in Paris. Breton's influence on the art and literature of the twentieth century has been enormous. Picasso, Derain, Magritte, Giacometti, Cocteau, Eluard, and Gracq are among the many whose work was affected by his thinking. From 1927 to 1933, Breton was a member of the Communist party, but thereafter he opposed communism. His writings include the first Surrealist Manifesto (Manifeste du surréalisme) of 1924, in which he defined surrealism as "pure psychic automatism". He also wrote Nadja in 1928. Breton died in 1966 at 70 and was buried in the Cimetière des Batignolles in Paris. (Bowker Author Biography) — biography from Nadja… (more)
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André Breton was born in Tinchebray, Normandy, France. His parents were Marguerite-Marie-Eugénie and Louis-Justin Breton, a policeman. Breton attended medical school, where he developed a particular interest in mental illness. His education was interrupted when he was drafted into the French army in World War I; he served as a nurse in the medical corps. In 1919, with Louis Aragon and Philippe Soupault, he founded the review Littérature. He became one of the original members of the Dada group. He published his first Surrealist Manifesto in 1924, and was editor of the journal La Révolution surréaliste from that year on. Influenced by his reading of Sigmund Freud and by Symbolist poetry, Breton is credited with pioneering automatism, the spontaneous act of writing, drawing, or painting as a means to elucidate unconscious thought. The Surrealist movement eventually became involved in the political ferment of the 1930s. During this time, Breton and several colleagues joined the Communist Party. His second Surrealist manifesto, published in 1930, was highly controversial among his fellow artists and writers. Breton broke with the Communist Party in 1935, but remained committed to Marxist ideals. In 1938, he accepted a commission from the French government to travel to Mexico. This provided him with the opportunity to meet Leon Trotsky, Diego Rivera, and Frida Kahlo. Together with Trotsky, Breton wrote the Manifesto for an Independent Revolutionary Art. He served again in the medical corps of the French Army at the start of World War II. His writings were banned by the Vichy government and Breton escaped from France in 1941 with the help of the Emergency Rescue Committee volunteers led by Varian Fry. After a detour in the Caribbean, Breton emigrated to the USA and lived in New York City for a few years. In 1942, he organized a groundbreaking Surrealist exhibition at Yale University. He traveled to the Gaspé Peninsula in Québec, Canada, where he wrote Arcane 17 (1944), one of the key works of Surrealism, which expressed his fears of war. In 1946, after the end of WWII, Breton returned to France, where he produced another Surrealist exhibition the following year. He was a prolific author who published some 60 volumes of poetry, literary criticism, and anthologies.
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