A Roger Caillois Reader
Author: Roger Caillois,Claudine Frank,Camille Naish
Publisher: Duke University Press
Category: Social Science
The Edge of Surrealism is an essential introduction To The writing of French social theorist Roger Caillois (1913-1978). Though his subjects were diverse, Caillois focused on issues crucial to modern intellectual life, and his essays offer a unique perspective on many of twentieth-century France's most significant intellectual movements and figures. Including a masterful introductory essay by Claudine Frank situating his work in relation to his life and intellectual milieu, this anthology is the first comprehensive introduction to Caillois's work to appear in any language. A part of the Surrealist avant garde, In the 1930s Caillois founded the College of Sociology with Georges Bataille and Michel Leiris. Caillois spent the remainder of his life exploring issues raised by this famous group. During World War II he lived in Buenos Aires and edited the journal Les Lettres Françaises. In the postwar period, he resisted dominant intellectual trends including existentialism and Marxism, and pursued his own interests, writing on a variety of topics, including politics, poetics, sociology, games, The "fantastic," and, ultimately, designs in nature and on stones. He sought to compete with Bataille's journal Critique through the "renewed humanism" of his own journal, Diogène, and to challenge structuralist theory through his concept of "diagonal science." in 1972, Caillois was inducted into the Academie Française. Arranged chronologically, these thirty-two essays with commentaries strike a balance between Caillois's political and theoretical writings and between his better known works, such as the popular essays on the praying mantis, myth, and mimicry and his lesser known pieces. Presenting several new documents and drawing on interviews and unpublished correspondence, this book reveals Caillois's consistent effort to reconcile intellectual rigor and imaginative adventure. Perhaps most importantly, The Edge of Surrealism provides an overdue look at how Caillois's intellectual project intersected with the work of Georges Bataille and others including Breton, Bachelard, Benjamin, Lacan, and Levi-Strauss.