cover image Arcanum 17

Arcanum 17

Andre Breton, Andrc) Breton, Andr -R74 E. -. Breton. Sun & Moon, $12.95 (144pp) ISBN 978-1-55713-170-6

Many French intellectuals who stayed in France greeted surrealist Breton's musings written from the near arctic reaches of Canada with some resentment when they first appeared in 1945. In fact, the book, although not one of his greatest works, may well have more resonance with contemporary audiences with its archetypes, goddesses, concern for nature and overall mystical bent. Like L'amour fou or Nadja , much of Arcanum 17 is a meditation on love but a tender lasting love for the concrete, rather tragic Elisa Bindhoff. Half-hidden among the dreams, soliloquys and recollections is the book's real purpose--to question the very way of being that had brought the world to such a horrible pass. Among the givens Breton calls on the carpet are logic, morality, time, death and most of all, masculine supremacy--``This crisis is so severe that I, myself, see only one solution: the time has come to value the ideas of woman at the expense of those of man, whose bankruptcy is coming to pass fairly tumultuously today.'' As Rogow points out in his helpful preface, the book's title is taken from the tarot, Arcanum 17 being the 17th card or star card, the signifier of renewal. Hints of the old interests (alchemy) and newer ones (Native American culture) mingle into a fluid and dynamic work by one of the most influential thinkers of the century. (Aug.)