Beginning in Paris in the 1920s, women poets, essayists, painters, and artists in other media have actively collaborated in defining and refining surrealism's basic project-achieving a higher, open, and dynamic consciousness, from which no aspect of the real or the imaginary is rejected. Indeed, few artistic or social movements can boast as many women forebears, founders, and participants-perhaps only feminism itself. Yet outside the movement, women's contributions to surrealism have been largely ignored or simply unknown.
This anthology, the first of its kind in any language, displays the range and significance of women's contributions to surrealism. Letting surrealist women speak for themselves, Penelope Rosemont has assembled nearly three hundred texts by ninety-six women from twenty-eight countries. She opens the book with a succinct summary of surrealism's basic aims and principles, followed by a discussion of the place of gender in the movement's origins. She then organizes the book into historical periods ranging from the 1920s to the present, with introductions that describe trends in the movement during each period. Rosemont also prefaces each surrealist's work with a brief biographical statement.
Though surrealism has often been viewed as a male-dominated movement, women (many more than the few well-known artists such as Lenora Carrington and Frida Kahlo) have been integral to its development. In this first anthology of writings by women Surrealists, drawn from an impressively global group, Rosemont (Beware of the Ice and Other Poems, Black Swan, 1992) dives deeper than the extant writing on the movement to unearth the women involved since its inception. These varied writings--automatic texts, prose pieces, critical tracts, Surrealist inquiries (e.g., "Would You Open the Door?"), and results of Surrealist games (e.g., "Time-Traveler's Potlatch")--offer a history of women's formative participation in surrealism's past and create a context for its future. Rosemont's insightful introduction, short essays prefacing each major period of the movement, and brief bibliographies illuminate a vibrant revolution in process. An important research tool as well as a fascinating read, this major contribution to art history and literary scholarship is highly recommended for academic and public libraries.--Rebecca Miller, "Library Journal"