We start the New Year off with a stunning collection of texts by Gisèle Prassinos—one of surrealism’s most gifted voices.
Prassinos was discovered at age 14 by André Breton who included her poetry in his seminal Anthologie de l’humour noir (1940). Breton commented: “The tone of Gisèle Prassinos is unique: all the poets are jealous of it.” Indeed, her haunting, childlike style remains unrivaled and her stories timeless.
Gisèle Prassinos reading her poems to the Surrealists (1934)
Photo © Man Ray Trust / ADAGP, Paris
Exquisitely translated from the French by Ellen Nations, this limited edition includes 20 transformative texts, plus eight original watercolor paintings by the artist Bruce Hutchinson.
That half the works in this collection were written when Prassinos was just fourteen and fifteen is evidence of how rare a prodigy she was. The surrealist’s sense of the word marvelous certainly applies to these strange creations.
Here is a taste of the text “Filial Devotion”…
He now found himself in the middle of a large lake where furniture made of mahogany, spruce and rosewood swam.Young girls in their panties gently fought each other by now and again blowing on their flushed arms.The man believed he recognized one of his daughters. But thinking it was only a hallucination, he retreated by swimming up to the adjoining door.There, he found himself in the presence of a very large and hairy stag.The stag’s eyes slowly became bigger and bigger as they gradually feasted on his whole egg-shaped face.
Only 85 copies are available for purchase.
OUT OF PRINT
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Ellen Nations, translator and photographer, grew up in Norway and has for many years made her home in the San Francisco Bay Area where she lives with her husband Opal Louis Nations. Together they published the experimental literature and art magazine Strange Faeces. In addition to her translations of Gisèle Prassinos, she has translated works by Alain Jouffroy, Paul Nougé, Raymond Radiguet, Joyce Mansour and others.
Bruce Hutchinson created the watercolor paintings in Surrealist Texts while in his mid-20s as part of his weekly correspondence with Opal and Ellen Nations. He wrote his letters on small pieces of paper with ink drawings on one side, original watercolors on the other. His artwork has appeared in many small press publications.