Magritte: The Mystery of The Ordinary

Let’s get surreal.

That is what the Art Institute of Chicago suggested we do, as we appreciate the works of surrealism. Particularly those of Magritte.

Yesterday, my mother, a dear friend, and I went through the exhibit which included well known paintings such as the locomotive coming through the fireplace:

The Art Institute reminds us about his purpose with this: “Seeking to make “everyday objects shriek aloud,” or make the familiar unfamiliar, Belgian artist René Magritte created some of the 20th century’s most extraordinary—and indelible—images.”

I laugh when I see his painting with the caption, “Ceci n’est pas une pipe.” Because it isn’t! Can you really smoke that thing?

But perhaps most interesting of all (to us readers) is the collection of books the Art Institute put in the shop to accompany this special exhibit on surrealism.

The Healing Trumpet by Leona Carrington

Impressions of Africa by Raymond Roussel

The City and The City by China Mieville

Selected Poems by Rene Char


Little, Big by John Crowley

The Street of Crocodiles by Bruno Shulz

Selected Stories by Robert Walser

Memories of the Future by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovskii

Memories of My Nervous Illness by Daniel Paul Schreber     
Nadja by Andre Breton
Locus Solus by Raymond Roussel
The Melancholy of Resistance by Laslo Krasznahorkai
The only one I own is John Crowley’s Little, Big. But, I surely want to become familiar with the other titles.

24 thoughts on “Magritte: The Mystery of The Ordinary

  1. I just received my copy of The Hearing Trumpet by Leonora Carrington, a surrealist that I only recently became aware of. Looking forward to reading it and exploring other books on this list as well.


  2. Love the selection of books – what a neat idea. I have a copy of Walser's Berlin Stories, and while I haven't read The Melancholy of Resistance, I've heard great things about it from a reading friend. Have you come across Satantango? That one knocked me sideways last year…


  3. When I saw the big Magritte show at the Art Institute 20(!) years ago, I do not believe they had that wonderful stack of books.

    If you need a partner for a René Char readalong, I'm ready. No, not ready, but anyways I'll do it.


  4. Vasilly, as you were leaving your comment this morning, I was in the draft editing the titles for links. Hope that you find some intriguing titles to accompany the work. I think that many of Magritte's paintings are perfect for kids. They're so literal, and yet, so not.


  5. How fun that you should receive the very book that I just learned of yesterday! I'm looking forward to reading it, too. I didn't have a picture of it, but some of the other books on display included Haruki Murakami and A Wild Sheep chase. Which is surreal to say the least.


  6. I have read nothing by Walser, nor Satantango. Which may be a title not an author. Anyway, glad for the recommendation, Jacqui. You know so very much about translated, and now surreal, literature.


  7. Really, when the museum said they are indelible images, one can see why! I remember the pipe, the apple (not pictured) and the locomotive quite clearly from years past. To put the artwork with titles of literature was such a good addition to the exhibit.


  8. Hmmm, I've never had a read-along for poetry before…but, you know how I enjoy reading with you. Could I persuade you to read Big, Little? If not, I'll try Rene Char. But first I need to read Proust's Remembrance of Things Past Volumes 2 and 3 which I'm reading with Arti of Ripple Effects.


  9. Sorry, I should have mentioned…Satantango is another of Laszlo Krasznahorkai's books. It was IFFP longlisted last year, and I think it won the BTBA (Best Translated Book Award) too. An extraordinary book, very intense..


  10. What an exciting exhibit! And I love the books they have selected to accompany it. I have a copy of The Hearing Trumpet, but have yet to read it. I bought it on a whim because I loved the cover and sound of it. I'm definitely going to move it up in my TBR queue 🙂 By the by, I love the pipe piece.


  11. A Char readalong is a terrible idea for many reasons – I have been leafing through my copy. A Little, Big readalong is a terrific idea. I will bet you can get quite a few people to join you in that one. See if the Shelf Love folks will join you – Jenny spent part of the summer reading earlier Crowley books.


  12. Tom, you do not have terrible ideas, but I glad for a willingness to read Little, Big. (Even better than Big, Little as I suggested in my earlier reply!) Shall we look toward October, or is that too late? Once we agree, I'll send a public invite. And a special one to Shelf Love (new to me).


  13. If anything, too early. That book needs room to breathe.

    This may sound odd, but can I suggest it as a spring book? There is an element of it that is like emerging from a cocoon.

    This comment may not make sense, but it is at least written in a Magritte-like spirit!


  14. Spring sounds great. I have a lot of Proust to get through in the fall, and this way we won't be rushed as you say. Let's think about April? I'm so glad to have another reading journey with you. And, whomever may want to join us.


  15. I am so blessed to have my mom (and my dad) to pal around with. Summers are filled with out adventures, and I cherish every moment.

    As for Murakami, I'm reading it super slowly, and I'll probably reread it for discussion in a month. But , I am loving it, so much.


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