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Bereft of their customary use, the panoply of nibs — intended precisely for writing but here trapped, unused, and standing in for illustration — takes on a hallucinatory quality of promise, frustration, and proliferation. The writing of this manuscript, on the other hand, is precisely for once not handwriting, but stencils (with the exception of a single letter ‘u’ in red ink), a semi-mechanized form whose typography hints at uses other than poetic: industrial, commercial, impersonal at the moment its meanings are intrusively intimate. This interplay between text and thing, between a dissolving sense of selfhood and the magical objects that hold it in thrall, had in fact already been the guiding principle for another key work published a year later but dating from 1941, Le vampire passif. A ‘lost classic’ of surrealism, this work would remain almost unknown until the following century, on its reissue by José Corti in 2001 and its publication in English in 2008.39 An extended meditation on the problem of the object as an active sign illuminating the paths of desire and anxiety, or as an enchanted body linking inner and outer realities, Le vampire passif joins works such as Breton’s L’Amour fou or the writings of Louis Aragon or Salvador Dalí as a key statement on the surrealist object, and like some of these writings maintains in tension divergent voices that move from the tone of a scientific or psychoanalytic document to an intense, mythologized language interspersed with personal accounts of the life of Luca and his friends in the clandestine Bucharest surrealist group of the early 1940s. Just as importantly, however, the book also features 18 illustrations, for the most part of surrealist objects either found or constructed by Luca (and photographed by Victor Brauner’s brother Théodore). The fact that most or all of these objects themselves appear to have been lost, leaving only the photographic evidence of

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Gherasim Luca, Le vampire passif (Bucharest: Les Éditions de l’Oubli, 1945) and Paris: Corti, 2001; The Passive Vampire (Prague: Twisted Spoon Press, 2008). For more on the role of the object in this work, see my preface ‘Luca the Absolute’ in the latter edition, and on the role of the object in his work overall, see my article “From Sorcery to Silence: The Objects of Gherasim Luca,” Modern Language Review, Vol. 88, No. 3 (July 1993) 625–638.

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Profile for Contra Mundum Press

Gherasim Luca Centenary Issue  

Essays and reflections in English and French on Romanian surrealist Gherasim Luca, including Luca's own texts and art. Also featuring rumi...

Gherasim Luca Centenary Issue  

Essays and reflections in English and French on Romanian surrealist Gherasim Luca, including Luca's own texts and art. Also featuring rumi...

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