Join us as we welcome Alan Bernheimer in celebration of his recent translation of Philippe Soupault’s Lost Profiles: Memoirs of Cubism, Dada, and Surrealism (City Lights, 2016). Bernheimer will be in conversation with visual artist and composer/improvisor, Hal Rammel.
ABOUT LOST PROFILES
Poet Alan Bernheimer provides a long overdue English translation of this French literary classic—Lost Profiles is a retrospective of a crucial period in modernism, written by co-founder of the Surrealist Movement. Opening with a reminiscence of the international Dada movement in the late 1910s and its transformation into the beginnings of surrealism, Lost Profiles then proceeds to usher its readers into encounters with a variety of literary lions. We meet an elegant Marcel Proust, renting five adjoining rooms at an expensive hotel to "contain" the silence needed to produce Remembrance of Things Past; an exhausted James Joyce putting himself through grueling translation sessions for Finnegans Wake; and an enigmatic Apollinaire in search of the ultimate objet trouvé. Soupault sketches lively portraits of surrealist precursors like Pierre Reverdy and Blaise Cendrars, a moving account of his tragic fellow surrealist René Crevel, and the story of his unlikely friendship with right-wing anti-Vichy critic George Bernanos. The collection ends with essays on two modernist forerunners, Charles Baudelaire and Henri Rousseau. With an afterword by Ron Padgett recounting his meeting with Soupault in the mid 70's and a preface by André Breton biographer Mark Polizzotti, Lost Profiles confirms Soupault's place in the vanguard of twentieth-century literature.
A key poet of Parisian modernism, Philippe Soupault (1897-1990) served in the French army during WWI and subsequently joined the antirationalist Dada movement under the leadership of Tristan Tzara. With friends André Breton and Louis Aragon, Soupault co-founded the Dada journal Littérature. In 1919, Soupault collaborated with Breton on the automatic text Les Champs magnétiques, widely considered the foundation of the surrealist movement. He would remain with the movement until 1929, resigning over its increasing politicization. In the years that followed, he wrote novels and journalism, and directed Radio Tunis in Tunisia, where he was imprisoned by the Vichy government during WWII. After the war, he resumed his journalistic activities and also worked for UNESCO. In 1972 he was awarded the Grand Prix de Poésie by the French Academy and he lived long enough the assist with the first complete translation of Breton and his Magnetic Fields in 1985.
Poet Alan Bernheimer's most recent collection is The Spoonlight Institute, published by Adventures in Poetry in 2009. He has lived in the Bay Area since the late 1970s, where he was active in Poets Theater and produced a radio program, "In the American Tree," of new writing by poets. He has translated works by Robert Desnos and Valery Larbaud.
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