La démarche poétique from Vico to Surrealism

New Vico Studies 22:63-84 (2004)
Abstract
We examine significant parallels between Surrealist art theory and Vico’s understanding of primitive metaphor, centering on a 1933 article on Vico by the Czech Surrealist Zdenko Reich, who recognized that Vico’s understanding of primitive thought shared notable similarities with the Surrealists’ intent to effect an epistemological revolution by re-establishing poetic thought as the central mode of human understanding. The Surrealists sought to undermine the rationalist assumptions of Western philosophy and revive the “poetic ideas of the first men” through the use of disjunctive juxtaposition, a technique Reich identified with Vichian primitive metaphor. Also like Vico, Reich and the Surrealists stressed the concrete and sensory foundations of thought as revealed in language, and saw the human body as the primary mediating vehicle of poetic thought. In this regard the Surrealists can be seen as effecting a complete embrace of Vico’s concept of metaphor in their attempt to re-organize reality on poetic terms
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