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The First Worldwide Game of Exquisite Corpse!

29 février 2016

Inspired by the popular game of cadavre exquis or exquisite corpse, Prose communication has decided to create a game that participants from around the planet can play in their own language! From now until April 15, 2016, citizens of the entire world are invited to contribute their own sentences to this game of exquisite corpse.

Brief History of Exquisite Corpse

Around 1925, at 54 Du Château in Paris, a fascinating and completely new literary game was born. Marcel Duhamel, a French publisher and translator; Jacques Prévert, a French poet and playwright; and Yves Tanguy, a French painter and artist, were among those living there.

All three fervently supported surrealism, an artistic movement that, in general terms, favored free processes of expression that didn’t involve the use of reason. These three and a number of friends were hanging out together on the fateful day when the fascinating game was born. These included Benjamin Peret, Pierre Reverdy, André Breton, Max Ernst and Frida Kahlo. There are even long-standing rumors of other guests, such as Joan Miró, Man Ray, Tristan Tzara, René Char, Paul Éluard, Henry Miller…

So these men and women invented exquisite corpse during a time when culture was at a boil. It has been adapted for drawing, but we’re interested in the literary version here. Each member of the group writes part of a sentence without letting anyone else see it. On a sheet of paper, participants write a subject, verb or object in normal sentence order. Then they each fold the paper to hide what they have written and pass it along to the next participant in turn. At the very end, the paper is unfolded and its contents, which are often ridiculous but sometimes poetic or even moving, are finally read out.

The first sentence written using this novel process was “Le cadavre exquis boira le vin nouveau” (The exquisite corpse will drink the new wine), from which the century-old game takes its name.

Reinvented Version for Prose communication and Friends

Other more or less strict versions appeared later. Today, Prose communication and friends want people from all over to write a sentence, any sentence, in the present tense: complete, nominal, adjectival, interrogative, etc. Trust your intuition when you write and don’t depend too much on your reason. Write your sentence automatically, without worrying about its syntactic, or any other, value. Let spontaneous inspiration guide you.

Directions for Submission and Objective of the Game

Then submit your sentence to cadavreexquismondial@gmail.com. With email it will be easy to track the order in which the sentences are submitted. We’ll be able to put them in chronological order and so create an exquisite corpse that meets the rules set by the founders of the game. But be careful! If you’re playing with friends and family, don’t let anyone see your sentence! And obviously, any sentence that is vulgar, discriminatory or felt to be inappropriate will be disqualified.

Pass the word around so that people from all cultures can get in on the game. Prose communication will translate sentences submitted in any language into French and English. At the end of the competition, we will put together a bilingual pdf document containing all the sentences received along with the names of all participants and their city and country of residence.

This celebration of the love of words, cultural sharing and ethnic brotherhood will be distributed on various social networks on April 23, 2016, to mark World Book and Copyright Day. You will be advised before then of the platforms chosen and the distribution strategy. Until then, have fun and don’t keep it a secret!