René Magritte

Selected Writings


René Magritte
Edited by Kathleen Rooney and Eric Plattner
Translated by Jo Levy

An indispensable literary complement to the paintings of René Magritte—the first collected in a single volume

Available for the first time in an English translation, this selection of Rene Magritte’s writings includes whimsical personal letters, biting apologia, appreciations of fellow artists, pugnacious interviews, and more—all through which a new portrait of the renowned Belgian painter emerges.

Available for the first time in an English translation, this selection of René Magritte’s writings gives non-Francophone readers the chance to encounter the many incarnations of the renowned Belgian painter—the artist, the man, the aspiring noirist, the fire-breathing theorist—in his own words. Through whimsical personal letters, biting apologia, appreciations of fellow artists, pugnacious interviews, farcical film scripts, prose poems, manifestos, and much more, a new Magritte emerges: part Surrealist, part literalist, part celebrity, part rascal.While this book is sure to appeal to admirers of Magritte’s art and those who are curious about his personal life, there is also much to delight readers interested in the history and theory of art, philosophy and politics, as well as lovers of creativity and the inner workings of a probing, inquisitive mind unrestricted by genre, medium or fashion.

René Magritte (1898–1967) was an internationally renowned Belgian Surrealist painter who also wrote prolifically on art and other subjects.

Jo Levy was a British translator whose translations include Alain Robbe-Grillet’s Ghosts in the Mirror, Hélène Cixous’s Angst, Louis Aragon’s The Libertine, and Arthur Adamov’s Man and Child.

Kathleen Rooney is senior lecturer of English and creative writing at DePaul University. She is the author of eight books of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and criticism.

Eric Plattner is an adjunct professor of writing, rhetoric, and discourse at DePaul University.

Table of Contents

The Double Agent: A Preface by Sandra Zalman
The Alphabet of Revelations: An Introduction by Kathleen Rooney
Pure Art: A Defense of the Aesthetic
Norine Blues
Texts from 391
Texts from Periode
Texts from Oesophage
Texts from Marie
The Legs of the Sky
Nick Carter
Personal Experience
The Man with the Aimless Face
“He Had Set out Alone…”
Notes on Fantômas
“All Precautions…”
“Her Heart is Mine…”
The Colours of the Night
“Communal Action…”
Reply to the Questionnaire on Love
Words and Images
Room for Thought
Surrealist Games
Ariadne’s Thread
Reply to the Questionnaire on the Crisis in Painting
Georges Braque
Exhibitions: Georges Rogy, W. Bartoszewicz, Alfred Wickenburg, at the Palais des Beaux-Arts
“My Dear…”
“Dear Jef…”
Life Line
Bourgeois Art
For L’Invention Collective
“R.M. has Changed…”
The Paint Seller or The Labor of Man
Magic Lines
Homage to James Ensor
Three Pamphlets
Silly Bugger
A New Cultural Initiative from the College of Art
Texts from Le Surractuel
Le Jour Nul des Poètes
Francis Picabia: Animated Painting
Surrealism in the Sunshine: A Dossier
I. Quarrel of the Sun
II. Manifesto of Extramentalism (Notes)
III. Surrealism in the Sunshine: Manifesto no. 1—October 1946
IV. Surrealism in the Sunshine: Manifesto no. 2—November 1946
V. Manifesto of Amentalism
Le Savoir Vivre
Magritte and the Communist Party: A Dossier
I. Amendment
II. A Letter to the Belgium Communist Party
III. Letter to Le Drapeau Rouge
Magritte Interviewed by Louis Quiévreux
“Aesthetic Pleasure…”
On Titles
Magritte Interviewed by André Gomes
The Real Art of Painting
The Call of Blood
Letter to Micro-Magazine
Henri Heerbrant
Battle of Wits
Note to the Communist Party
The Condemned Man
“A Man of the People…”
“It is Difficult… ”
Two of a Kind
Magritte Interviewed by Maurice Bots
Reply to the Questionnaire: The Problem of Revolt
“I am Thinking about…”
A Great Neglected Painter: Permantier
Nat Pinkerton
M’s Useless Painting
On Jane Graverol
“Mallarmé’s Death…”
Magritte, Pataphysics, and the College
Reply to the Questionnaire on Sexuality
Autobiographical Sketch
Thought and Image
Magritte Interviewed by Jean Stévo (I)
Reply to the Questionnaire: “Does Thought…”
A Poetic Art
The End of the Octroi
Variants of Sadness
The Ignorant Fairy
L’Empire Des Lumières
René Magritte on Television
Aphorisms (dated)
Magritte’s Speech on Being Elected as a Member of the Académie Picard
“A Judgment on Art…”
“The Charm of the Strange…”
René Magritte Puts the Image in Focus
In René Magritte’s Night the Sky Floats over Us All
Magritte Interviewed by Georges D’Amphoux
Another Head at the Back of the Head
“Max Ernst’s Painting…”
Magritte Interviewed Jean Stévo (II)
Scenes from Luc de Heusch’s Film, with Dialogue
About “The Universe of Sound”
Magritte Interviewed by Lucienne Plisnier
Likeness (Liège Version)
“Mystery is not…”
Magritte to Israel Shenker
Jan Walravens: Meeting with Magritte
“It is a Fallacy…”
Magritte Interviewed by Michel Georis
Magritte Interviewed by Marcel Fryns (I)
Object Lesson
“Inspired Thought…”
“People Cannot Know…”
Magritte Interviewed by Pierre Mazars
Magritte Interviewed by Marcel Fryns (II)
Magritte Interviewed by Jacques Goossens
Magritte Interviewed by Guy Mertens
On the Death of André Breton
Message to the Sea
“Nausea Takes Me…”
Magritte Interviewed by Carl Waï
Letter to Serge Creuz
Texts—no date
Knowledge of the World