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Surrealism Gone West : from The Dream Life of Balso Snell (1931) to Miss Lonelyhearts (1933)

Abstract : American modernist Nathanael West’s relationship to surrealism has been a classic topic of discussion among literary scholars. Though West is not considered to be a Surrealist, the term “surrealist” is often used to describe his writing. In order to overcome this critical double bind, this paper argues that West’s hallmark lies precisely in his departure from surrealism as well as in his ability to recombine it to produce his own aesthetics of reality, as illustrated by the transition from his first novel, The Dream Life of Balso Snell (1931), in which West parodies the surrealist tenets, to his second one, Miss Lonelyhearts (1933), in which André Breton’s call to rethink reality has been changed into a cynical criticism of self-delusion in the American context of the Depression.
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Frank Conesa. Surrealism Gone West : from The Dream Life of Balso Snell (1931) to Miss Lonelyhearts (1933). Miranda : Revue pluridisciplinaire sur le monde anglophone. Multidisciplinary peer-reviewed journal on the English-speaking world , Laboratoire CAS (Cultures anglo-saxonnes), 2017, Early American Surrealisms, 1920-1940, 2017 (14), ⟨10.4000/miranda.9829⟩. ⟨hal-01522217⟩

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