Max Ernst’s Surrealist Collage Novel – ‘A Week of Kindness’

Finished in just three weeks whilst in Italy in 1933, Ernst’s ‘Une Semaine de Bonte’ or ‘A Week of Kindness’ is a breathtaking series of wood engraved illustrations hijacked from various French popular fiction and periodicals of the late nineteenth century and morphed and warped into Ernst’s own surrealist iconography. It is split into seven parts, one for each day of the week, and each revolves around one of the seven deadly elements (as opposed to sins). Sunday (mud) is dedicated to one of the surrealist forefathers, Grandville, famed for his animal men (obviously a big influence on Ernst) and as such the first part contains lots of lion-men (psychologist Dieter Wyss suspected this to be an incarnation of the Freudian superego). Monday (water) alludes to Noah’s flood. Tuesday (fire) is day of the dragons and flight; serpentine wings sprout from the backs of the characters. Wednesday (blood) is dedicated to Oedipus and Oedipal drives take the form of great human-birds – LopLop, Ernst’s alter ego and familiar, took such a form on the basis of Freud’s identifying humanity’s age-old fascination with birds in his 1910 ‘Leonardo DaVinci and a Memory of His Childhood’. Ernst was greatly influenced by Freud, and through him found a way of exerting his Oedipal conflict with his father; we might view his famous 1922 ‘Oedipus Rex’ as a kind of subconscious blueprint for this section. Thursday (blackness) is the day of ‘The Rooster’s Laughter’ and ‘Easter Island’. Friday (sight) revolves around ‘the interior of sight’ and is made up of what Ernst calls visible poems. Saturday (unknown) is ‘The Key to Songs’, the most cryptic of days which seems to draw upon many of the various images throughout. Below I’ve collected a few of my favourite images from each of the days:


17948464_10155092251565242_941170172_o.jpg17968606_10155092244050242_1613996907_o (1).jpg17976198_10155092251745242_329527598_o.jpg17976515_10155092251220242_1644233558_o.jpg



















6 thoughts on “Max Ernst’s Surrealist Collage Novel – ‘A Week of Kindness’

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s