This is part two of a two-part post on the works of German artist Max Ernst. For a look at his paintings and for biographical notes see part one below.
Une semaine de bonté (A week of kindness) is a graphic novel and artist's book first published in 1934. It comprises 182 images created by cutting up and re-organizing illustrations from Victorian encyclopedias and novels.
The earliest collage books by Ernst, Répétitions and Les malheurs des immortels date from 1922, the year the artist moved to Paris. They were created in collaboration with poet Paul Eluard. Ernst went on to produce numerous collage-based paintings, and more collage books. The largest and most important before Une semaine de bonté were La femme 100 têtes (1929) and Rêve d'une petite fille qui voulut entrer au carmel (1930).
Une semaine de bonté was completed in 1933 in just three weeks, during a visit to Italy. A few of Ernst's sources were identified: these include illustrations from a 1883 novel by Jules Mary, Les damnées de Paris, and possibly a volume of works by Gustave Doré Ernst purchased in Milan. The completed novel was first published in Paris in 1934 as a series of five pamphlets of 816 copies each
The work originally appeared in five volumes, but is actually divided into seven sections named after the days of the week, beginning with Sunday. The first four published volumes covered a day each, whereas the last volume covered three: Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Each of the seven sections is associated with an element, and is provided with an example of the element, and an epigraph.
A contemporary version was published in 1978 as ‘Une Semaine de Bonté: A Surrealistic Novel in Collage’ by Max Ernst and Stanley Appelbaum.