Andre Breton, poet, novelist, philosophical essayist, and art critic, is considered the father of surrealism. From World War I to the 1940s, Breton was at the forefront of the numerous avant-garde activities that centered in Paris. A prolific producer of pamphlets and manifestoes, he also edited two surrealist periodicals. Breton's influence on the art and literature of the twentieth century has been enormous. Picasso, Derain, Magritte, Giacometti, Cocteau, Eluard, and Gracq are among the many whose work was affected by his thinking. From 1927 to 1933, Breton was a member of the Communist party, but thereafter he opposed communism. At the time of Breton's death in 1966, his novel Nadja (1928), about a young dreamer in love with an ethereal heroine was reaching a new generation of theatre goers.
Richard Howard was born in Cleveland and educated at Columbia University and the Sorbonne. Noted for his translations of French literature, including the works of Robbe-Grillet and the memoirs of Charles de Gaulle, Howard is also the author of one of the more important books on contemporary American poetry, Alone with America (1969) as well as a reviewer and critic for Poetry magazine. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for poetry in 1966--67. Howard's most notable poetic achievement is his fine adaptation of Browning's dramatic monologues, first compiled in Untitled Subjects (1969). Harold Bloom writes of them: "Richard Howard's dramatic monologues with their intricate blendings of our emergent sensibility and the anguish and splendor of the great Victorians represent one of the handful of surprising and refreshing inventions in American poetry of the Sixties."