Gerard Durozoi, , trans. from the French by Alison Anderson. . Univ. of Chicago, $95 (816pp) ISBN 978-0-226-17411-2

With its unprecedented depth and range, this massive new history of Surrealism (including 232 color plates and 777 halftones) from veteran French philosopher and art critic Durozoi will be the one-volume standard for years to come. Divided chronologically into seven chapters, beginning with 1919–1924 and ending with 1959–1969, the book discusses expertly the main surrealist artists like Jean Arp, Max Ernst, René Magritte, Yves Tanguy, Salvador Dalí and Joan Miró, but also treats with considerable understanding the surrealist writing by Louis Aragon, Paul Eluard, Robert Desnos, Julien Gracq and, of course, the so-called "Pope of Surrealism," André Breton. Emerging from the disarray of World War I, surrealism finally foundered soon after the death of Breton in 1966, by which time world events were as ghastly as any surrealist's most vivid nightmare. There is also room for descriptions of hitherto neglected figures, like the émigré painter Simon Hantaï, father of the great harpsichordist Pierre Hantaï. The translation manages to convey the clarity of the original text, published in France in 1997, although the syntax is sometimes half French, half English. Durozoi concludes that the "prestige" of surrealism is intact, and the movement managed to "infuse [life] with fresh air," as Gracq wrote. This generous book ends with more than 50 pages of "Notes on the Principal Surrealists and Some of Their Close Followers"—useful potted biographies, which are judgmental rather than dry, reference-style efforts—and an impressively copious bibliography reflecting the passion and perspicacity seen everywhere else in this book. (Apr.)

Forecast:Despite its length and weight, this book should turn up in all serious collections on 20th-century art, but it will also sell well from display tables and word-of-mouth, as surrealism retains the air of sex, dreams and danger that has captivated readers and art lovers for more than 75 years. And some rarely reproduced images will spur further scholarly investigations.