Surrealist Aftershocks: Artaud, Freud, and Mirrors of the Surreal Schism


Surrealism may be our last, near-global artistic movement that took seriously the integrity of the art-maker and expressed as its purpose the same goals as that of an organized radical politics, and for this it deserves to our attention. Antonin Artaud, a disgraced Surrealist but later appreciated, would have the greatest impact on reimagining the “mystical stage” of performance and drama in the 20th Century and beyond it. This paper connects Artaud's legacy with that of the Surrealists, as well as that of Sigmund Freud, and in doing so finds value and relevance in Antonin Artaud's work as it explores a range of aesthetic, cultural, and political issues. After analyzing concepts of the Surrealists' connection to aesthetic and psychoanalytic theories, this paper explores, via Artaud, the limits of the performative subject, placing a special importance on the issue of representation, via lesser-known essays on mirrors and doubles, to illuminate these parallel issues.

Biografia do Autor

Lee Patrick Patterson, Florida State University

Lee Patterson is a critic and educator. He is a Ph. D Candidate in Literature, Media, and Culture at Florida State University where he is studying drama and performance under S.E. Gontarski, and writing his thesis on the Surrealist movement through such figures as Antonin Artaud, and extending into Modernism through studies of Herbert Blau, Peter Brook, Sigmund Freud, and a range of playwrights and cultural and literary theorists. E-mail: .


ADES, Dawn, et al. The Surrealism Reader. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press: 2015.

ARTAUD, Antonin. The Theater and Its Double. Transl. from the French by Mary Caroline Richards. New York: Grove Press, 1958.

BENEDIKT, Michael. Modern French Theatre. In The Avant-Garde, Dada, and Surrealism; an Anthology of Plays. Edited and Translated by M. Benedikt and G.E. Wellwarth. Boston: Dutton & Co., 1966.

BLAU, Herbert. The Eye of Prey: Subversions of the Postmodern. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1987.

DERRIDA, Jacques. Writing and Difference. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017.

DUPUIS, J. F., and Raoul Vaneigem. A Cavalier History of Surrealism. San Francisco: AK Press, 1999.

DUROZOI, Gérard; ANDERSON, Alison. An Excerpt from History of the Surrealist Movement. In History of the Surrealist Movement. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Available at , accessed 06 November 2019.

FIJALKOWSKI, Krzysztof; RICHARDSON, Michael. Surrealism: Key Concepts. Abingdon-on-Thames and New York: Routledge, 2016.

BRETON, André. Manifesto of Surrealism. The University of Alabama, 1999. Available at , accessed 13 June 2019.

FREUD, Sigmund, and HERTZ, Neil. Writings on Art and Literature. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997.

GENET, Jean; FRECHTMAN, Bernard. The Balcony. New York: Grove Press, 1994.

MALT, Johanna. Obscure Objects of Desire: Surrealism, Fetishism, and Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

MURRAY, Ros. Antonin Artaud: The Scum of the Soul. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.

ZINDER, David G. The Surrealist Connection: An Approach to a Surrealist Aesthetic of Theatre. Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1980.