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This report is taken from PN Review 74, Volume 16 Number 6, July - August 1990.

Philippe Soupault, Magnetic Poet James Kirkup
A great French poet died on 12 March 1990 - Philippe Soupault, who was one of the founders of surrealism. In 1920 appeared the founding text of surrealism, Les Champs Magnétiques, written in collaboration with André Breton. Extracts from it had already appeared in their review Littérature which they started in 1919 with Aragon. For the next five or six years Soupault participated in the various serio-comic activities of the surrealist group, signed manifestos, became friendly with Robert Desnos and Antonin Artaud. But he left the surrealist group in 1926. Breton disapproved of his novel-writing and his smoking of English cigarettes. Artaud and Roger Vitrac were 'excommunicated' at the same time by the Pope of Surrealism, on the grounds that they were interested in writing for the theatre.

Soupault wrote essays and articles, including notable ones about Raymond Roussel. He travelled to the USSR and the USA and wrote travel articles as well as reviews of films until the death of his friend the cinéaste Jean Vigo, who was to have filmed a scenario, Le Coeur Volé by Soupault. In Berlin in 1932, reporting for Le Petit Parisien, he writes 'Hitler, c'est la guerre!', but no one took much notice in France. He organized Radio Tunis in 1938 and was arrested by the Vichy government in 1940, which imprisoned him for six months in Tunis. He escaped to Algiers where he renewed his friendship with André Gide and wrote his 'Ode à Londres Bombardée'.

After the war, ...

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