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B o o k R eview s Professor Hubert grounds her study in a fertile generalisation: until late in the nine­ teenth century, book illustration tended to be essentially mimetic. Illustrators chose passages in the text (or, in some cases certainly, had passages chosen for them) and exe­ cuted drawings in one or another medium which translated the text into graphic form. The more imaginative and capable the artist, the more likely he was to exercise the critical fac­ ulty of interpretation in his rendering, thus escaping to a degree what Professor Hubert de­ scribes as an unavoidable submission to the text. The surrealists, on the other hand, emphasized disruptions and discontinuities. In keep­ ing with their revolt and the subversion of bourgeois ideology, they also stressed collabora­ tion and collective performance between author and artist. And as fierce partisans of risk and experimentation, they were constant seekers of new, untried techniques. Illustration, according to Renée Hubert, could no longer function for them as “ paraphrase” but had instead to “ mediate the text” so as to achieve authentic “ two-directional interplay of image and text” (11). Appropriately, she cites several central theoretical studies of illustration (Marin, Eco, and more recently A.-M. Bassy and Ségolène Le Men), but cautions that “ we may fail as readers not only of the surrealist book . . . but of individual illustrations” (23) if we adopt too readily or exclusively theories of illustration as “ additional textuality” (22). Her approach, then, depends on emphasizing the tension between the text and its illus­ trations. Indeed, “ their complete fusion would subvert surrealist aims” (23). In this spirit she proceeds to extensive, detailed readings of a considerable number of books, some obscure, rarely encountered works, like the 1925 A u défaut du silence of Eluard and Ernst, others monuments of bibliophilie history, such as Eluard and M iro’s A toute épreuve. Because she never loses sight of the interrelatedness of text and image, we are constantly aware of the significance the surrealists attached to collaboration, even when it took place between an artist and a precursor work, like Magritte or Dali for Les Chants de Maldoror, Masson or M atta for Une saison en enfer. Indeed, the notion of collaboration is a recurring one. A later chapter devoted to the particular kind of collaboration involved in political engagement allows Professor Hubert to differentiate between the types of illustrations found in “ lyric and polemic explosions of . . . texts” (232) and the “ epic quality” of works like Cahier d ’un retour au pays natal (Césaire, Wilfredo Lam) or A ir mexicain (Péret, Rufino Tamayo). Throughout, Renée Hubert approaches the history of surrealism elastically. She has rightly emphasized the movement’s spirit in treating, for example, Lam and Césaire as sur­ realists, or in describing Joseph Cornell as the creator of book objects that move surrealism beyond the illustrated book. Her comparison of the surrealist and expressionist book, in the conclusion, inexplicably discounts the socio-political dimension of the latter, but she has succeeded admirably in illuminating the significance of the illustrated book for the reading of surrealism. The flawlessly executed plates, illustrations and index only make the lack of a bibliography the more disappointing. It is one of the few things to criticize in an otherwise notable achievement. J o h n A n z a l o n e Skidmore College Tilde A . Sankovitch. F r e n c h W o m e n W r it e r s a n d t h e B o o k . M y t h s o f A c c e s s a n d D e s ir e . Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1988. Pp. 165. The jacket of French Women Writers and the B ook offers an ironic mise en abîme of the book’s subtitle “ Myths of Access and Desire.” It reproduces a sixteenth-century illusVOL . XXIX, NO. 2 95 L ’E s pr it C réa te u r tration of Penelope writing. Penelope is dressed as a merchant’s wife. She is sitting at her desk writing a letter to her far-away husband. Her face...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1931-0234
Print ISSN
0014-0767
Pages
pp. 95-96
Launched on MUSE
2017-07-05
Open Access
No
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