Jacques Vaché and the Roots of Surrealism


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Vaché’s War Letters & Other Writings

By Franklin Rosemont
Charles H. Kerr Publishing

The decade that gave the world Krazy Kat, Rube Goldberg, and Buster Keaton also marked the emergence of Jacques Vaché. A bold jaywalker at the crossroads of history, and an ardent exemplar of freedom and revolt, Vaché challenged all prevailing values, from church and state to white supremacy, and was especially gifted at the fine art of ridiculing the dominant ethics and aesthetics of the emerging age of imperialism.

Conscripted into the French Army in World War One, he soon became not only the unsurpassed champion of “Desertion from Within,” but also the master of “Disservice with Diligence.” His post-humous slim book, War Letters (1919)—included in the present volume—is a classic of surrealist anti-militarism and subversion. Renowned as the Inventor of Umour (Humour without the H), Vaché was—along with Isidore Ducasse, Comte de Lautréamont—the major inspirer of André Breton and the surrealist revolution.

The first of its kind in English, this book chronicles Vaché’s boundless originality, creative nonconformity, revolutionary morality (or umorality), and his all-out turn-the-world-upside-down hilarity.

“Deeply enriched by Rosemont’s personal friendship with scores of active surrealists around the world, this lively study of a central figure in the origins of the movement puts the accent on surrealism’s revolutionary significance today and tomorrow.” – David R. Roediger

Additional information

Weight 19.1 oz
Dimensions 8.5 × 5.5 × 1 in


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