|MIT University Press Group Ltd|
the guardian Tue 16 October 2012
First published in France in 1965, this seminal study of Dada has been revised and updated. It is the result of more than 15 years of research and interviews with the key players in a movement "whose writings were never more than signs". As Sanouillet says, his personal knowledge of them allows him to "give meaning to its apparent ideological vacuity". This rich historical account also includes some 250 documents and letters. Dada began in 1916, at Hugo Ball's Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich ("was there ever a city less suited to conceiving such a movement?"). Four years later, Dada was provoking and charming Paris with its iconoclastic manifestos and sound poems. "When I was twenty years old the important thing for me / Was to unlearn and not to have learned," wrote the poet Louis Aragon, one of the founders along with André Breton, Philippe Soupault and Théodore Fraenkel. Emerging out of a new generation's deep disillusionment with traditional values, Dada "opened a window upon the world", bringing fresh air into the stale, bourgeois literary scene.