Rrose Sélavy de Robert Desnos : à la recherche du sens caché

Małgorzata Kuta


The article talks about a selection of lyrical quotes Rrose Sélavy which appeared in 1922. It is the
result of language experiments Robert Desnos carried out at the beginning of his adventure with
surrealism. The entertaining aphorisms are closely connected to the practice of hypnotic séances, as
they were created in half-conscious, medium-like clairvoyance. Their completely new meaning
– poetical, humorous and often paradoxical – was achieved by making skilful use of the incredible
homonymity of the French language, exquisite employment of the sound similarity within words and
putting to practice numerous rhetorical devices. We have alliterations, anagrams, homonyms, paronyms
and, first of all, the play of monosyllables (contrepèteries) where letters and syllables are
switched between two or more words. The texts, surreal par excellence , make readers wonder – are
they a pure language structure without a deeper sense and hidden message or do they actually expose
“the real functioning of thoughts” as André Breton put it in the Surrealist manifesto in 1924.


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DUMAS M.-C., 1984, Étude de « Corps et biens » de Robert Desnos, Paris, Champion.

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FRAZER S.F., 1987, « Rrose Sélavy et compagnie » [in :] Cahier de l’Herne. Robert Desnos, Édition établie et présentée par M.-C. Dumas, Paris, Éd. de l’Herne.

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WINSPUR S., 1987, « Langage cuit et l’idéal du texte performatif » [in :] Robert Desnos, M.-C. Dumas (éd.), Paris, Éd. de l’Herne.

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