Desnos, Robert Pierre (1900-1945) By Amaral, Genevieve
Robert Pierre Desnos (1900-1945) was a surrealist French poet whose diverse work included scripts for film and stage; journalism; essays; advertisements; cantatas; children's fables; and political tracts. His principal works are of experimental poetry and prose, though after breaking with the Surrealists he often employed more classical forms and produced commercial works for radio and newspapers. His preferred themes included dreams, mythology, voyages, eroticism and love. Desnos died in an internment camp in 1945.
From 1922-1927 Desnos contributed regularly to La Révolution Surreáliste and co-signed collective Surrealist tracts. He showed a gift for hypnogogic sleep and automatic writing, leading André Breton to call him the poet ‘closest to surrealist truth’. His longer surrealist works Deuil pour deuil (Mourning for Mourning, 1924) and La Liberté ou l'amour! (Liberty or Love!, 1927) combine narrative prose and lyric poetry, and involve extensive linguistic play, such as puns and homonyms. He often illustrated his own works, or collaborated with artists like André Masson, Joan Miró, and Pablo Picasso.