By Breton, André; Matthews, J. H.; Breton, André
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Extra info for André Breton : sketch for an early portrait
At this stage, while Breton began looking to Apollinaire for guidance, it was not by any means clear in his mind that he was trying to progress toward a poetic mode for which the Apollinairian adjective surréaliste might be appropriate. 2 Breton's enthusiasm for Apollinaire is vital evidence, revealing how he came to approach poetry. The things he wrote about the older poet demonstrated far more than Breton's ability to be selective in his reactions to people he admired. It reflected his gift for emphasizing elements he regarded as positive, while ignoring other features in an artist's work which conflicted with those same elements.
When I was told you had just left Paris for Barcelona, I was really hurt. Is it possible that we have been so suspicious of one another! I cannot explain, once again, what came over me: the more I question myself, the more I feel that I have not stopped loving you, that your presence in Paris is very necessary to me and that it is pure perverseness to behave at every moment as if it were not" (Sanouillet, p. 518). There are undeniable signs of tension in Breton's letters to Picabia. They reflect the writer's anxiety about giving offense, proving his dependence on his correspondent.
There could be no question, for Breton, of retaining the Mallarmean attention to external form and of attempting to infuse his poems with material more personal than that which had given him an excuse, earlier, to practice poetry as a formal exercise more than anything else. It was in fact in the nature of his expanding concept of poetry to oblige him to concentrate on content to the point at which form per se could no longer have meaning (value) for him, except as the vehicle for sharing with his audience the most precious element of the poem, substance.