Excerpts from the “Second Manifesto of Surrealism” (1929)
Surrealism, although a special part of its function is to examine with a critical eye the
notions of reality and unreality, reason and irrationality, reflection and impulse, knowledge and
“fatal” ignorance, usefulness and uselessness, is analogous at least in one respect with historical
materialism in that it too tends to take as its point of departure the “colossal abortion” of the
Hegelian system. It seems impossible to me to assign any limitations –economic limitations, for
instance—to the exercise of a thought finally made tractable to negation, and to the negation of
negation. How can one accept the fact that the dialectical method can only be validly applied to the
solution of social problems? The entire aim of Surrealism is to supply it with practical possibilities
in no way competitive in the most immediate realm of consciousness. I really fail to see—some
narrow-minded revolutionaries notwithstanding—why we should refrain from supporting the
Revolution, provided we view the problems of love, dreams, madness, art, and religion from the
same angle they do. Now, I have no hesitation in saying that, prior to Surrealism, nothing
systematic has been done in this direction, and at the point where we found it
method, in its Hegelian form, was inapplicable for us too
. There was, for us too, the necessity to put
an end to idealism properly speaking, the creation of the word “Surrealism” would testify to this [.
We also intend to place ourselves at a point of departure such that for us philosophy is
“outclassed.” It is, I think, the fate of all those for whom reality is not only important theoretically
but for whom it is also a matter of life or death to make an impassioned appeal, as Feuerbach
desired, to that reality: our fate to give as we do, completely, without any reservations, our
allegiance to the principle of historical materialism.
Our allegiance to the principle of historical materialism.
.. there is no way to play on these
words. So long as that depends solely on us—I mean provided that communism does not look upon
us merely as so many strange animals intended to be exhibited strolling about and gaping
suspiciously in its ranks—we shall prove ourselves fully capable of doing our duty as
[. . .] In September 1928, .
..these two questions .
.. were asked me:
Do you believe that literary and artistic output is a purely individual phenomenon? Don't
you think that it can or must be the reflection of the main currents which determine the economic
and social evolution of humanity?
Do you believe in a literature and an art which express the aspirations of the working class?
Who, in your opinion, are the principal representatives of this literature and this art?