To the Editors:
Your readers may be interested in a very recent and, in my view, extraordinary publishing event, the reproduction in facsimile of the more-than-seminal Les Champs magnétiques (Magnetic Fields), composed by André Breton and Philippe Soupault in two weeks at the end of 1919.
The manuscript is reproduced in its original size and appearance, and it is annotated (by Serge Fauchereau) as well as described and transcribed typographically (by Lydie Lachenal). Anyone interested in surrealism, its workings and its productions, will be fascinated by this handsome and clear production of a work of singular importance.
The individual parts of the text were not ascribed to one or the other of the authors when it was first published, but now the different handwritings distinguish the authors. It stands as the first true automatic piece of writing.
The first reader of this text, the first to understand its significance, Louis Aragon, said of the project shortly before his death:
With distance, a sort of unity has established itself, and the Magnetic Fields have become the work of a single author with two heads. This double gaze has made it possible, as nothing else would, for Philippe Soupault and André Breton to push forward on the path where no one had preceded them, into these shadows where they were both speaking aloud.
The facsimile may be obtained by writing the publishers, Lachenal and Ritter, 23 and 25 Quai Voltaire, Paris 75005 France. It costs 390 francs.
Mary Ann Caws
City University of New York
New York City
March 16, 1989