Five Unforgettable André Breton Quotes

André Breton's quotes talk about poetry and rebellion. His statements were a provocation against a system that sought to turn human beings into pre-designed gear.
Five Unforgettable André Breton Quotes

Last update: 22 February, 2020

André Breton was the father of surrealism. His quotes made history and are well-known worldwide. He completed a career in medicine but most people know him due to his contributions to literature. This is because he wrote many poems, essays, and novels. In addition, he made many theoretical contributions to surrealism.

People continue to use many of André Breton’s quotes. They’re a symbol of an era and of an intellectual stance. The “surrealist manifestos” were a beacon of an entire generation. Many people considered them a novel way of looking at the world.

The thoughts of this French author were a mixture of psychoanalysis, Marxism, and anarchy. His combination of interests resulted in a unique personality often exalted by men such as Octavio Paz and Salvador Dalí.

The best André Breton quotes

1. Wealth, a paradoxical issue

“What’s wealth? Nothing, if not spent, nothing, if wasted.”

This is one of André Breton’s most ingenious quotes about society’s paradoxes. It shows the contemptible reality that surrounds the concept of material wealth. In a way, it denounces the deep emptiness surrounding wealth.

Indeed, wealth is a transitory reality which, in one way or another, is always surrounded by nothingness. As Breton says, not spending it is the same as having nothing. In addition, wasting it makes it trivial and nonexistent.

A woman thinking about money.

2. Crazy people and imagination

“Crazy people are, to some extent victims of their imagination, in the sense that it causes them to break certain rules, rules whose transgression defines the quality of crazy.”

In this quote, André Breton associates the concepts of madness, imagination, and transgression. The rules are its point of reference. These serve as a starting point to define what’s madness and what it isn’t.

Anyone who breaks certain rules is considered “crazy”. As you can see, this is one of André Breton’s quotes that shows the reasoning between what most people consider “reasonable” merely because society established it and “unreasonable” because it deviates from it.

3. André Breton on rebellion

“Rebellion, and rebellion alone, is the creator of light, and that light can’t take more than three paths: poetry, freedom, and love.”

In this quote, André Breton shows his eternal revolutionary spirit, always committed to change. However, instead of linking the subject to politics, he associated it with greater values.

This is because Breton constantly struggled between political militancy and creative freedom. In the end, he opted for the latter. This is why his way of thinking was more oriented towards internal and everyday transformations, than towards changes in the world’s systems of power.

4. This is surrealism

“The person who can’t visualize a horse galloping on a tomato is an idiot.”

Thus, this line is obviously a metaphor for the deepest spirit of surrealism. This is because it’s a strong statement in favor of imagination over the senses and reason. Thus, it’s a function of going beyond the physical that seems to be exclusive to human beings.

This is because everything that’s impossible in the material world is possible in the symbolic world. In addition, human beings can dream in order to access the impossible that, nevertheless, make many of their realities sensible. Otherwise, they would be insane or absurd.

A person sitting on a dock.

5. Thought and shoes

“We mustn’t load our thoughts with the weight of our shoes.”

This quote shows how imaginative André Breton was. In fact, humanity owes him the famous slogan that students wielded in May 1968 in France: “Power to the imagination“.

Thus, when he speaks of not burdening your thoughts with the weight of your shoes, he’s telling you to not be so “realistic”. This is because, while this is a virtue for those who make life a project and utilitarianism a priority, it also ends up imprisoning human beings. Thus, some always have their feet firmly on the ground, while others allow themselves to fly.

In conclusion, André Breton’s quotes are an eternal manifesto in favor of freedom, which anyone can achieve through art and imagination. In addition, his way of thinking marked an entire era and is responsible for many interesting human creations.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Breton, A., & Eluard, P. (2003). Diccionario abreviado del surrealismo (Vol. 1). Siruela.

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