Atlas Press
About Atlas Press
Recent Publications & News
Complete List of Publications
Chronological List of Publications
Atlas Anti-Classics
Atlas Arkhives
The Printed Head
Eclectics & Heteroclites
Special Editions
The London Institute of ’Pataphysics
How to Buy a Book
Privacy Policy
Terms & Conditions
Contact Us
Emailing List
The Punishments of Hell cover image The Punishments of Hell

Robert Desnos

Eclectics & Heteroclites 18

Translated by Natasha Lehrer & Chris Allen (verse).
ISBN 978-0-9931487-3-6
160pp 15x17cm
Buy item
A Dadaist novel from 1922.

The first prose work by Robert Desnos initially appears to be a roman à clef, except that would imply the sort of conventional narrative that is here cast gleefully aside. Most of Desnos’s friends in the Paris Dada movement make an appearance, André Breton, Louis Aragon and Benjamin Péret among others; yet these young men, so well known now but who then had barely made their mark, find themselves consigned to a “cemetery” just before the end of the book, interred alongside their literary heroes. The past, it seems, must be buried, perhaps the future too.

The Punishments of Hell, or New Hebrides lies between Dada and Surrealism, looking back to the nihilistic incomprehensibility of, say, Tristan Tzara and overwhelming it with the savage lyricism for which Desnos would become renowned. The protagonists are swept up into violent journeys by train and steamship across Paris and beyond, as fabulous events consume their everyday lives and oracular voices spout verses that may be nonsense or wisdom. All is confusion at this critical pass when the future seemed simultaneously at stake and almost within reach — a very modern sense of chaos is embodied in this vivid and breathless “novel".


Atlas Press This site design Copyright (C) 1999-2019
Site contents Copyright © Atlas Press 1999-2019
BCM Atlas Press, 27 Old Gloucester Street, London WC1N 3XX, UK