Hebdomeros is a 1929 book - referred to by some as a novel - by Italian artist and writer Giorgio de Chirico. de Chirico did not produce any other long-form writing. He was and remains primarily known as a painter, especially for his scenes of deserted cityscapes, such as The Soothsayers Recompense and The Enigma of the Hour.
The book is narrated in the third person and loosely concerns the movement of a man, Hebdomeros, westward. Writing in The Kenyon Review, Alan Burns referred to the text as a "surrealist dream novel."
1. Context and publication
At the beginning of his career, de Chirico produced works in a style he developed with his fellow Italian painter Carlo Carrà. They referred to the style as "Pittura Metafisica" or "metaphysical art." In the early 1920s, the French poet and writer Andre Breton around whom the Surrealist movement organized itself noticed and became enthralled by a "metaphysical" painting of de Chiricos at the gallery of Paul Guillaume. Due to admiration from Breton and other Surrealists, de Chirico became an accepted member of their social and artistic group in Paris. Later in the 1920s, other Surrealists became increasingly critical of de Chiricos new work, and he split from the other artists.
Despite de Chiricos split with the group, critics generally refer to Hebdomeros as belonging to the body of Surrealist writing. Peer artists who both painted and wrote include Max Ernst.
Writing in Books Abroad, Helene Harvitt referred to the book as "hard to read," blaming both its indistinct plot and the "typographical aspect" of few paragraph breaks and no divisions into chapters. Despite her reservations, she wrote that readers with "patience" would find "much poetry and food for thought."
In other works
The American writer Thomas Pynchon refers to Hebdomeros as a "dream novel" in his own debut novel, V.
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