Study Guide

Surrealism Timeline

How It All Went Down

1914-1918: World War I

War sweeps through Europe and millions of soldiers and civilians lose their lives. It's so devastating that it doesn't feel real—it feels sur-real.

1917: The poet Guillaume Apollinaire coins the term "Surrealism"

Apollinaire uses the term "Surrealism" to describe a ballet performance in 1917. Breton went on to steal the term and used it to describe his budding literary movement. What a thief.

1919: André Breton, Phillipe Soupault, and Louis Aragon found the journal Littérature

Littérature would become a platform for Surrealist writers, many of whom published their trippy poems and texts in the journal. 

1920: André Breton and Phillipe Soupault publish The Magnetic Fields

It's the first important Surrealist work to be published, and it gets its readers' heads spinning.

1924: André Breton publishes The First Manifesto of Surrealism

This manifesto, which defines the aims and goals of the movement, officially kicks off the Surrealist movement.

1924: The journal La Revolution Surrealiste is founded

This journal replaces Littérature, the original literary journal of the Surrealists. It's not just about Surrealism anymore; it's about the Surrealist Revolution.

1925: Robert Desnos publishes Mourning for Mourning

All the other Surrealists are jealous of Desnos' amazing talent for automatic writing, showcased in this collection of writings.

1929: The Second Manifesto of Surrealism is published

By this point, a bunch of the original Surrealists have left or been been kicked out of the group by André Breton.

1930: Robert Desnos and other ex-Surrealists publish the pamphlet Un Cadavre (A Cadaver)

Those ex-Surrealists who have been excommunicated by André Breton don't take things lying down. In this pamphlet, they attack the godfather of Surrealism himself, Breton.

1939-1945: World War II

Uh-oh. War is back in Europe. Big time. A number of Surrealist and ex-Surrealist writers join the anti-Nazi Resistance movement in France.