SURREALIST’S DREAMS AND CLASSICAL TRADITION
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The aim of this paper was to demonstrate that ostensibly idiosyncratic images in Jindřich Štyrský’s dreams and works of art are, in fact, part of European literary and pictorial tradition and originate in ancient Greece and Rome. In the introduction to his book “Dreams” of 1941 Jindřich Štyrský identified his deceased stepsister Marie with the perverse image of the ancient Greek monster Medusa. In order to highlight this identification, he evoked a glimpse of a magazine’s colour supplement of the painting depicting Medusa, which he caught as a child. This painting created by Rubens and Snyders in 1617-1618 was inspired by classical literary texts, above all, Lucan and Pliny. Pliny’s story on mating of snakes, which was illustrated in this painting, thus entered Štyrský’s imagination, even though he had not been given a classical education. The strange motif of snakes that kiss and kill thus interconnects provably Štyrský’s recorded dreams and works of art with the Western classical tradition.
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