André Breton - Georges Bataille polemic  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

André Breton, being the driving force behind surrealism, ran the movement in a dictatorial style, even expelling several of its members in the Second Surrealist Manifesto in 1929. Some of these 'surrealist heretics' started contributing to Georges Bataille's journal Documents.

Most sources state that Breton called Bataille an "excrement-philosopher" (philosophe-excrément) in the Second Surrealist Manifesto, but in reality these words are nowhere to be found in that text. In the words of Breton, Bataille is presented as a "sick person" who suffers from a "déficit conscient à forme généralisatrice", a sufferer of "psychasthenia" who expresses himself with delight in a vocabulary of the "befouled, senile, rancid, sordid, lewd [and] doddering" ("souillé, sénile, rance, sordide, égrillard, gâteux").

Il est à remarquer que M. Bataille fait un abus délirant des adjectifs : souillé, sénile, rance, sordide, égrillard, gâteux, et que ces mots, loin de lui servir à décrier un état de choses insupportable, sont ceux par lesquels s’exprime le plus lyriquement sa délectation.

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