Graphic Annotations of China Miéville’s The Last Days of New Paris

Nicky Martin
Aug 17, 2016 · 10 min read

The Last Days of New Paris is China Miéville’s novella about a surrealist Paris magically overlapping with our realist Paris. At the back of the book, Miéville offers endnote citations of the surrealist art that inspired his writing. I corralled all the art in this post.

**Spoilers, perhaps? Although, contextless art might entice unconvinced readers to read the novella!**

4 “It’s the Vélo!” -

“I am an Amateur of Velocipedes” by Leonora Carrington (1941)

7 As everyone gathered watched the black virtue

“La Vertu noire” by Roberto Matta (1943)

9 There are worse things than garden airplane traps:

“Garden Airplane Trap” by Max Ernst (1935)

9 Flocks of bat-winged businessmen and ladies:

“Une semaine de bonté” by Max Ernst 1934
related image by Max Ernst — please comment with title

9 mono- and bi- and triplane gemoetries

“Le Drapeau noir” by René Magritte (1937)

11 Huge sunflowers root all over

“Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” by Dorothea Tanning (1943)

11 up-thrust snakes that are their stems

“Lovers’ Flower” by Léona Delacourt [Nadja] (192?)

11 human hands crawl under spiral shells

“Sans Titre” by Dora Maar (1934)

11 each shark is hollow-backed, with a canoe seat

Scans of Variétés, 1929 (I think?)

11 the stumps of its struts, forty storeys up

Cited book, Paris and the Surrealists, George Melly

15 an impossible composite of tower and human…a pair of women’s high-heeled feet

an untitled exquisite corpse by André Breton, Man Ray, Max Morise, Yves Tanguy (1927)

16 enervation infecting house after house

Miéville’s explains Céline’s mantif of enervation; the text says “the Nazis sought to create…a Céline weltgeist” here’s Wikipedia’s Hegelian definition,

16 Enigmarelle, foppish robot staggered out of an exhibition guide

Photo from Wiki on Enigmarelle

16 the dreaming cat

“Cat’s Dream” by Léona Delacourt [Nadja] (192?)

17 sagelands, smoothed alpine topographies like sagging drapes

“Danger, Construction Ahead” by Kay Sage (1940)

17 Under one lamppost, it is night

“The Empire of Light” by Réne Magritte (1953–54)

22 Jacques Hérold set a black chain on fire

Herold’s black chain on fire is probably “Dans le Jeu de Marseille, le Marquis de Sade vu”

(found by commenter Mike Williams)

30 a dream mammal watches him with marmoset eyes

“The Dream of 21 December 1929” by Valentine Hugo (1929)

31 Redon’s leering ten-legged spider

“The Smiling Spider” by Odilon Redon (1891)

33 such prim Delvaux bones…prone Mallo skeletons

“la ville inquiéte” by Paul Delvaux (1941)
“Antro de fósiles” by Maruja Mallo (1930)

34 The Musée de l’Armée is being emptied…by curious undergrowth

Photo of The Musée de l’Armée

See note 61 for “irrational embellishments”

36 “They’re called wolf-tables…Manifest from an imagining by a man called Brauner.”

“loup-table” by Victor Brauner (1947)
“Psychological Space” by Victor Brauner (1939)
“Fascination” by Victor Brauner (1939)

37 a barnacled book

Could not find; if you do, please comment where.

38 a spoon covered with fur

“Breakfast in Fur” by Meret Oppenheim (1936)

40 “Those who are asleep…are workers and collaborators in what goes on in the universe.”

A scholastic reference to Géographie nocturne was the best I could find.

I had no luck finding La Main á plume, a collectively-written book by André Breton. The title translates to “Hand with Pen”

45 “Ithell Colquhoun?”

Website dedicated to this British Occultist

51 “Confusedly…forests mingle with legendary creatures hidden in the thickets.”

“Sleep Spaces” by Robert Desnos translated to English

51 those rushing futurist plane-presences

“Winged Folgore” by Guglielmo Sansoni [Tato] (1933)
“Fiat CR32 in Stunt — Flying over a Workshop”, by Guglielmo Sansoni [Tato] (1932)
“Il Duce” by Gerardo Dottori (1933)

51 “Fauves…The negligible old star?”

This is Gertrude Stein’s poem, “Negligible Old Star”

54 a giant’s pissoir

The Arc de Triomphe from Wikipedia

See note 61 for “irrational embellishments”

55 a great sickle-headed fish…a woman made up of outsized pebbles

“Woman and Bird” by Wilfredo Lam (1963)
“Stone Woman” by Meret Oppenheim (1938)

56 the Palais Garnier, its stairs dinosaur bones

A photo of the Palais Garnier, Wikipedia

See note 61 for “irrational embellishments”

56 Le Chabanais

Photo of Le Chabanais exterior
Photo of Le Chabanais interior

See note 61 for “irrational embellishments”

56 A vegetal puppet, stringy, composite floral thing

“Cave to Canvas: Vegetal Puppets” by Remedios Varo (1938)

56 Celebes

“The Elephant Celebes” by Max Ernst (1921)

57 The sun over Paris isn’t an empty-hearted ring

“The Grey Forest” by Max Ernst (1920)
“The Large Forest” by Max Ernst (1920)

58 smoke figures wafting in and out of presence

“Grand Fumage” by Wolfgang Paalen (1930s)

Not sure on this painting’s title or date.

59 “The horse head.”

“Do You Know My Aunt Eliza?” by Leonora Carrington (1941)

60 Seilgmann. Colquhoun. Ernst. and de Givry

Amazon link to Grillot de Givry’s referenced book translated to English

61 “On Certain Possibilities of the Irrational Embellishment of a City”

Here is a PDF of Le Surréalisme au service de la révolution n.6 (1933) In which Méiville found the descriptions of the “irrational embellishments”

61 “Chemical-blue, twisted machines of jujube-trees of rotten flesh?”

Here is a PDF of Cahier d’un retour au pays natal (Notebook of a Return to the Native Land) translated to English

62 a feathered sphere the size of a fist

“Object-Phantom” by Toyen [Marie Cermínová] (1937)

63 a winged monkey with owl’s eyes

“The Birthday” by Dorothea Tanning (1942)

64 It stands like a person under a great weight…hedgerow chic

“Exquisite Corpse” by André Breton, Jacqueline Lamba, Yves Tanguy (1938)

66 everyone…feels as if they are on the mezzanine of a snake-flecked staircase

“Danger on the Stairs” by Pierre Roy (1927–8)

68 They are in rubble full of birdcages…a baby’s face the size of a room

“The Shooting Gallery IV” by Toyen (1940)

“The Shooting Gallery” paintings are all here, on WikiArt

69 a storm of birds

“Bird Superior” by Max Ernst (1934)

71 Chabrun, Léo Malet and Tita

#71. La Main á plume (“Hand with Pen” in English)was a periodical, or series of pamphlets written collectively. See

Thanks to commenter George Trosper for this one.

71 Thibaut had fought the Carlingue once, alongside Laurence Iché

Laurence Iché’s poem, I Prefer Your Uneasiness Like a Dark Lantern, taken from the book, Surrealist Women.

Translated from French by Myrna Bell Rochester

“La Déchirée” by René Iché (1940)

74 Sacré-Cœur

Photo of The Sacré-Cœur

See 61 on “irrational embellishments”

75 a ladder of sinewy muscled arms

“Les Batisseurs de ruins” by Tita? (1941)

Thanks to George Trosper on this one.

77 A huge featureless mantif woman holed by drawers…dolls crawling crablike

“The Burning Giraffe” by Salvador Dalí (1937)
“The Doll” by Hans Bellmer (1936)

77 “My pajamas balsam hammer gilt with azure.”

Simone Yoyotte’s poem “Pyjama-Speed”

Translated from French by Myrna Bell Rochester

88 Trapped in their Marseille hinterland…the Surrealists had drawn new suits, a cartographic rebellion

The Marseille face cards, by many artists (1943)

Find out more about these cards at this French language blog.

92 “A lobster. With wires…”

“Lobster Telephone” by Salvador Dalí (1936)

93 scratch-figures etched with keys

Photograph by Brassaï (1930s)

Couldn’t find the title of this photo; please comment if you do.

94 a great shark mouth…smiling like a stupid angel

Alice Rahon’s 1942 story, “The Sleeping Woman” can be previewed on Google Books

94 It is a sandbumptious

“March 7 1937–4 (Sandbumptious)” by Grace Pailthrope (1937)

97 the Lion of Belfort

A Photo of The Lion of Belfort

For more on “irrational embellishments” see 61

Max Ernst’s Une semaine de bonté on Amazon

99 the Statue of Liberty

“The Statue of Liberty” by Jardin du Luxembourg (1934)

105 where the Palace of Justice once was…sawdust swirls from the windows and doors of Sainte-Chapelle

Photo of the Palace of Justice, Paris

For more on “irrational embellishments” see 61

105 the squat square towers to either side of its sunburst central window

Photo of Notre Dame’s bell towers

For more on “irrational embellishments” see 61

106 Arno Breker’s looming, kitsch, retrograde marble figures

“Maldito Insolente” by Arno Breker

108 Hélene Smith…glossolalic channeler of a strange imagined Mars

Martian script, devised by Hélen Smith

124 the Société de Gévaudan…in a Lozere sanatorium

Photo of Saint Alban psychiatric hospital

I couldn’t find a source for where Miéville found the provided information.

125 A man in a coat watches eyelessly from a chessboard head

“René Magritte with a Chessboard Over His Face” by Paul Nougé (1937)

125 “the Soldier with No Name!”

Photo of Claude Cahun

127 tiny exquisite corpses ripped into their components by machines

“Nude” by Yves Tanguy, Joan Miró, Max Morise, and Man Ray, (1926–1927)
“Exquisite corpse.” by Max Morise, Joan Miró, Yves Tanguy, Man Ray. (1927)
“Exquisite corpse.” by Max Morise, Joan Miró, Yves Tanguy, Man Ray. (1927)

162 “It’s a self-portrait.” … “Of Adolf Hitler.”

“A. Hitler” by Adolf Hitler (1910)

That’s it! There’s a few missing notes, so let me know if you find them. Feel free to share this with Miéville and surrealism fans far and wide.

Nicky Martin

Written by managing editor. blogging about writing & SF