Surreal love in prague

P4_Shore_397411kMarci Shore at the Times Literary Supplement:

It was an ecstatic encounter. The Czech poets fell in love with the French poets – and miraculously for the Czechs, that love was reciprocated. Éluard told Nezval that Paris seemed cold and sad after his time in Prague. Breton wrote that he had taken from Prague the most beautiful memories of his life. He wanted Nezval to know that “you have acquired me completely, that for you I am willing to do everything, that you are my best friends”. The sentiments were mutual. “No feeling”, Nezval told Breton, “has seemed to me so valuable, so sublime as the thought that I can call you my adored friend.” In a letter to Éluard (not cited by Sayer), Nezval enclosed some of his poems in literal French translation: “Dear friend, that these lines have been permitted to find themselves before your eyes has already justified my entire life . . . . I love you. We all love you”.

Nezval represented what was already the third generation of Czech modernists. In the 1890s, Czech modernism had emerged as a revolt against mechanistic positivism and as a call for individualism in an age of nation-building. “We want truth in art”, proclaimed the Manifesto of Czech Modernism (1895), “not truth that is a photograph of exterior things, but honest, interior truth.” This was before Czechoslovakia existed, when the Czech lands were the possession of the Austro-Hungarian Habsburg Empire.

more here.