Shop Talk and Ptichka

I've been staring at the computer screen and blank sheets of paper for the past week because although I had tonnes of stuff to say about the Czech Surrealists, I didn't. It all felt pointless and old. Although I know that what I'm writing is new, I still felt like I was just blowing hot air out my ass. After Ptichka came home we talked about it. She asked a couple of questions about Surrealism and how exactly Mácha was transformed into the first Surrealist. And then she asked the money question,

P: Why did they do this?

Zh: Well, to protest the official version of Mácha that was being supported by the establishment and to stake a claim for literary immortality.

P: That's not very interesting. Can you get fifty pages out of that?

Zh: No. But it is kind of interesting that an avant-garde movement that claimed to be internationally oriented cared so much about a long-dead poet about whom I guarantee the French knew nothing.

P: So then, why pubish a volume dedicated to this long-dead poet?

Zh: To put Czech Surrealism on the same footing as French Surrealism, which considered romanticism its "prehensile tail."

P: Why would they want to do that?"

Zh: Because Germany's next door and its re-arming itself. It's cracked down on its avant-garde. The Czech avant-garde is starting to grow disillusioned with the Soviet Union after Nezval's reception at the 1934 Writers' Congress. They don't officially break with the Soviet Union until Meierkhol'd's theatre is closed in 1938, however. Then there's France. France is supposed to protect Czechoslovakia. Not only do they have a treaty obligation, they also have a cultural obligation because the Czechs are just as good as the French. They're kindred spirits. After all, when Karel Čapek, who was far more even-keeled than the leading surrealists (Nezval and Teige) stressed the link between France and Czechoslovakia in the new introduction to the second edition of New French Poetry, you have to start thinking that the Czechoslovaks are feeling threatened.

P: I think you have your point.

Indeed, I guess that I do. I've actually been nursing this point for a while but my advisor doesn't like this point. I'm beginning to think that she may be wrong, however. I suppose that we'll see.


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