Ghost Ships: A Surrealist Love Triangle by Robert McNab - review by Jonathan Mirsky

Jonathan Mirsky

Angkor Where?

Ghost Ships: A Surrealist Love Triangle


Yale University Press 256pp £25 order from our bookshop

I CAN THINK of many titles for this sometimes intriguing book - 'The Sky, the Sea and the Jungle: Asia and the Surrealists', for example - but I would never have suggested 'A Surrealist Love Triangle'. That gives the impression that it's primarily about the unhappy three-way relationship, lasting from 1921 until 1924, of the French poet Paul Eluard, his Russian wife Gala (one of the most dangerous women I have ever read about; she later hooked up with Salvador Dali), and the German painter Max Ernst. One might assume that the book follows their affair from Germany to Paris to Saigon. That would be a terrific story.

But this book, which is certainly about some fascinating things, isn't really about that triangle, and for a simple reason: 'the affair was barely mentioned by them and so the episode came to be forgotten'. According to Robert McNab, a documentary film maker, the triangle 'turned into a kind of

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