The Edge of Surrealism
is an essential introduction to the writing of French social theorist Roger Caillois. Caillois was part of the Surrealist avant-garde and in the 1930s founded the College of Sociology with Georges Bataille and Michel Leiris. He spent his life exploring issues raised by this famous group and by Surrealism itself. Though his subjects were diverse, Caillois focused on concerns crucial to modern intellectual life, and his essays offer a unique perspective on many of twentieth-century France’s most significant intellectual movements and figures. Including a masterful introductory essay by Claudine Frank situating his work in the context of his life and intellectual milieu, this anthology is the first comprehensive introduction to Caillois’s work to appear in any language.
These thirty-two essays with commentaries strike a balance between Caillois’s political and theoretical writings and between his better known works, such as the popular essays on the praying mantis, myth, and mimicry, and his lesser-known pieces. Presenting several new pieces and drawing on interviews and unpublished correspondence, this book reveals Caillois’s consistent effort to reconcile intellectual rigor and imaginative adventure. Perhaps most importantly, The Edge of Surrealism provides an overdue look at how Caillois’s intellectual project intersected with the work of Georges Bataille and others including Breton, Bachelard, Benjamin, Lacan, and Lévi-Strauss.