“Beauty will be CONVULSIVE or will not be at all.”
One cannot call this a spoiler, though, that is the last line of this curious novel.
Nadja is the ‘beginning’ as is indicated of her chosen Russian name as she explains it. Perhaps she is Breton’s vision of the beginning of any love affair or the beginning of exploration of beauty or love or both. Nadja is the unattainable in reality who becomes attainable in dreams. She is not so much flesh as she is portal. Nadja could be anyone. Nadja could be Breton’s surrealist dream in female form – his mirror whose hand is his hand, a hand that practices surrealist art – automatic drawing while writing letters of dream pursuits.
Nadja’s reality, or lack there of, bothers me less than the ‘you’ at the end of “Nadja”. Breton addresses ‘you’ for several pages; these pages are filled with admiration that one would assume are directed toward a love, but that love is not Nadja. The you is not an enigma. In fact, Breton states:
“You are not an enigma for me.
I say you have turned me from enigmas forever.”
The rather lengthy paragraph that follows these lines is curious, almost denoting that this postscript was to explain why he wrote the rest though he no longer deemed it necessary.
This post could become as nonsensical as some shall view surrealism, so I shall conclude with why I found the ending so intriguing BEYOND the ‘you’….
In the last few pages, Breton mentions a sign he sees, THE DAWNS. This seemed rather odd as other signs were noted in the book, but not in bold. Couple that with the last paragraph ,which ends with the wonderful sentence that started this entry, and there is a bit of a curious puzzle. Why – the last paragraph is simply a bit of news taken from the paper (it reminded me of today’s conceptual art’s weather reports). That said, I don’t believe it was random.
You see, the news report was of a plane crash, “X December 26″ One line that caught my eye was: “The message said, in particular: “There is something which is not working”. I was curious about this bit of news…was it indeed real. Why would Breton close his novel with it? So, I Googled a couple of things and found a report of a plane crash on December 25. 1927 – Frances Wilson Grayson (female American pilot) and Brice Goldsborough (ironically, born in Iowa) were flying Grayson’s plane “The Dawn” to Newfoundland so that she could then attempt to cross the Atlantic.
I shall not go on for this probably too much information, but I am even more curious about this story published in 1928. Do you think that Breton included this as a surrealist game and composed Nadja – or was this news an attempt to explain the ghosts in which he opens the novel….
(as an aside: this book is composed in three sections – the opening, which reads rather autobiographical and setting place – the middle which is the story of Nadja – and the end, which is more like an epilogue, but rather philosophical not really about Nadja, but about Breton and a bigger question on beauty. )