Surrealism is a form of art and literature developed between WW-I and WW-II, particularly in France.
The groundbreaking surrealist treatise of André Breton (1924) challenged 19th century Realism by advocating humor, dreaminess and the absurd. Breton, himself, was trained in medicine and psychiatry, and treated shell-shocked soldiers with Sigmund Freud‘s “talking cure” method (i.e. the psychoanalytic method).
In artistic expression and, perhaps, as a lifestyle surrealism explores sublime (or bizarre) realities apparently existing behind our conventional perceptions and paradigms.
In literature, surrealism is found in the verse of Paul Eluard, the absurd, ironic plays of Eugène Ionesco and Samuel Beckett as well as in the psychologically charged novels of William S. Burroughs. Surrealism also enters into music, film and TV.¹
Today, surrealism refers to any noticeably enhanced or distorted representation or interpretation. In everyday speech, people will say “that’s so surreal” when encountered with things or events laying just outside their psychological comfort zone. This kind of usage may be slightly positive or negative.
¹ For more, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surrealism
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