Equal parts love story, artwork, case study and autobiography, Breton’s most famous work of fiction applies surrealist principles of composition to narrative form. Nadja, the object of the narrator’s obsessive love, might be a distorted mirror of the author or a cipher for the city of Paris; her madness and indigence also make her the embodiment of a surrealist ideal. In this second work of fiction ever to appear with embedded photographs, the images interrupt and dispute the text, rather than merely illustrating it. The proximity between surrealism and psychoanalysis looms large. Breton’s self-scrutiny inverts the psychoanalytic insight that the self is haunted by the history of its love objects: to know who we are, he begins, we must know whom we haunt… The question is comforting and unsettling by turns: who in this world is haunted by me--and do the spectral memories of me they carry around augment or diminish my presence? Breton’s avant-garde story of doomed love is a must-read for all those who have been housed in and ghosted by those they love.
"Nadja, " originally published in France in 1928, is the first and perhaps best Surrealist romance ever written, a book which defined that movement's attitude toward everyday life. The principal narrative is an account of the author's relationship with a girl in teh city of Paris, the story of an obsessional presence haunting his life. The first-person narrative is supplemented by forty-four photographs which form an integral part of the work -- pictures of various "surreal" people, places, and objects which the author visits or is haunted by in naja's presence and which inspire him to mediate on their reality or lack of it. "The Nadja of the book is a girl, but, like Bertrand Russell's definition of electricity as "not so much a thing as a way things happen, " Nadja is not so much a person as the way she makes people behave. She has been described as a state of mind, a feeling about reality, k a kind of vision, and the reader sometimes wonders whether she exists at all. yet it is Nadja who gives form and structure to the novel.