‘Man and Nature In and Out of Order’: The Surrealist Prose Poetry of David Gascoyne

  • Luke KennardEmail author


Kennard reassesses the impact of Surrealist techniques and aesthetics on the prose poems of David Gascoyne, arguing that even in his early experiments the form allowed him to question, analyse and develop his own poetic, enabling a creative breakthrough. Nikki Santilli’s analysis of the form provides a theoretical framework. There is a focus on Surrealism as an essentially anti-theistic movement, its socio-political ends as liberating to Gascoyne’s writing as they were antithetical to his own position. While the work amounts to a brief period in Gascoyne’s life, it is significant in the study of the Surrealist movement, its influence on British poetry and the development of Gascoyne’s poetics of spirituality. The prose poem is suited to the dialectic ambivalence and self-questioning essential to any such endeavour.

Works Cited

  1. Caws, Mary Ann, ed. The Yale Anthology of Twentieth Century French Poetry. Connecticut: Yale University Press, 2004.Google Scholar
  2. Fraser, Robert. Night Thoughts: The Surreal Life of the Poet David Gascoyne. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.Google Scholar
  3. Gascoyne, David. A Short Survey of Surrealism. London: Cobden-Sanderson, 1935.Google Scholar
  4. ———. The Sun At Midnight. London: Enitharmon Press, 1970.Google Scholar
  5. ———. Extracts from A Kind of Declaration. Warwick: Greville Press, 1988.Google Scholar
  6. ———. Collected Journals 1936–42. London: Skoob Books, 1991.Google Scholar
  7. ———. Night Thoughts: A Radiophonic Poem. Paris: Alyscamps Press, 1995.Google Scholar
  8. ———. Selected Prose 1934–1996. London: Enitharmon Press, 1998a.Google Scholar
  9. ———. Interview. Stand Magazine, Volume 33, 25 (1991). Reprinted in the introduction to David Gascoyne, Selected Prose 1934–1996. London: Enitharmon Press, 1998b.Google Scholar
  10. ———. Letter to an Adopted Godfather. Devon: Etruscan Press, 2012.Google Scholar
  11. ———. New Collected Poems 1929–1995. London: Enitharmon Press, 2014.Google Scholar
  12. ———. Man’s Life Is This Meat. Paris: Black Herald Press, 2016.Google Scholar
  13. Miller, Henry. An Open Letter to Surrealists Everywhere. New York: New Directions, 1939.Google Scholar
  14. Raine, Kathleen. “David Gascoyne and the Prophetic Role.” The Sewanee Review 75.2 (Spring 1967): 193–229.Google Scholar
  15. Santilli, N. Such Rare Citings. Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson Press, 2002.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of BirminghamBirminghamUK

Personalised recommendations