Delia Ungureanu’s “From Paris to Tlön. Surrealism as World Literature”

    In this pathbreaking study, Delia Ungureanu uncovers the circuitous routes by which a local Parisian movement became a global literary and artistic phenomenon. She unfolds the rivalries and the hidden debts of a gallery of larger-than-life figures, from André Breton and Salvador Dalí to Jorge Luis Borges, Vladimir Nabokov, and Orhan Pamuk. With its compelling blend of cultural history, literary analysis, and scholarly detective work, “From Paris to Tlön” belongs in every surrealist’s flea market and every comparatist’s library.” – David Damrosch, Ernest Bernbaum Professor of Literature, Harvard University, USA

    Surrealism began as a movement in poetry and visual art, but it turned out to have its widest impact worldwide in fiction-including in major world writers who denied any connection to surrealism at all.

    At the heart of this book are discoveries Delia Ungureanu has made in the archives of Harvard’s Widener and Houghton libraries, where she has found that Jorge Luis Borges and Vladimir Nabokov were greatly indebted to surrealism for the creation of the pivotal characters who brought them world fame: Pierre Menard and Lolita.

    In “From Paris to Tlön: Surrealism as World Literature“, Delia Ungureanu explores the networks of transmission and transformation that turned an avant-garde Parisian movement into a global literary phenomenon.

    From Paris to Tlön” gives a fresh account of surrealism’s surprising success, exploring the process of artistic transfer by which the surrealist object rapidly evolved from a purely poetic conception to a mainstay of surrealist visual art and then a key element in late modernist and postmodern fiction, from Jorge Luis Borges and Valdimir Nabokov to such disparate writers as Gabriel García Márquez, Haruki Murakami, and Orhan Pamuk in the 21st century.”

    Table of contents
    1. Intellectual Networks and Surrealist Objects
    2. On the Road to Establishment: Surrealism in the 1930s
    3. Pierre Menard the Sur-realist
    4. Surrealism on the New York Market
    5. The Battle Over the New World
    6. From Dulita to Lolita
    7. The Ghosts of Surrealism in the World Novel

    From Paris to Tlön” provides unexpected and innovative perspectives on very widely read, widely taught, highly admired masterpieces by brilliant, cosmopolitan aesthetic stylists:

    Borges’s “Pierre Menard” and Nabokov’s “Lolita”.

    The impressive scholarship includes real detective work in primary materials, especially little magazines across the world, and makes previously unrecognized connections, providing valuable coverage of Surrealism in North and South America and making the figure of Salvador Dalí more comprehensible. Anyone reading the book will learn something new from it, even beyond what we would call its big ideas. Essential for any cultured person.” – Jonathan Arac, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of English, University of Pittsburgh, USA

    A scintillating piece of ‘detective literary criticism,’ as Ungureanu aptly defines the genre of her study, “From Paris to Tlön” adds significantly to our knowledge and understanding of surrealism as a global phenomenon.
    Perhaps the single most original contribution of this book is to have demonstrated the seminality of surrealism for a number of important writers not habitually associated with the movement (Nabokov and Pamuk, amongst others)
    .” – Galin Tihanov, George Steiner Professor of Comparative Literature, Queen Mary University of London, UK

    Delia Ungureanu’s book demonstrates that a transnational approach to literary history can help us ground comparative readings of texts and reveal hidden intertextual links.
    “From Paris to Tlön” is a major contribution to our understanding of the circuits and networks through which surrealism became part of the world literature canon, and it is a model for further research on world literature as well as for literary history
    .” – Gisèle Sapiro, Professor of Sociology, School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences, France

    Dr.Delia Ungureanu is Assistant Director of Harvard’s Institute for World Literature and assistant professor of literary theory in the Department of Literary Studies at the University of Bucharest.

    She is the author of “From Paris to Tlön: Surrealism as World Literature” (forthcoming from Bloomsbury), and of “Poetica Apocalipsei: Războiul cultural în revistele literare românești” (1944–1947) (The Poetics of Apocalypse: The cultural war in Romanian literary magazines, 1944-1947, Bucharest UP, 2012).
    She has published essays on canon formation, modern poetry and poetics, Shakespeare, and Nabokov, and is coediting Romanian Literature for the World: Circulation and Exchange on the International Market, a special issue of the Journal of World Literature.


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