Salvador Dali’s great literary ambition: a study of the novel

Hidden Faces through the criticism and the manuscripts



Salvador Dalí is mainly known as a painter, but during an important period of his life he put great effort into his books, particularly his novel Hidden Faces. Through a close reading of this novel and the manuscripts preserved at the Fundació Gala-Dalí in Figueres, as well as the American and French criticism, this paper aims to prove that his written work is key to understanding his cosmogony and that he was determined to fulfill the literary mission that Federico García Lorca had predicted for him.

In 1943, two years after publishing his autobiography with great success, Dalí took on the challenge of writing Hidden Faces, which was destined to confirm him as a polymath and allow him to sublimate some of his traumas and obsessions through his very own paranoiac-critical method based on psychoanalysis. The proximity in time with his autobiography and the personal aspects of the novel bring up interesting questions about the nature of the novelistic genre and its autobiographical implications.


“The poet is much more the one who inspires than the one who is inspired”

Paul Éluard


After three tentative trips to the USA (1934, 36 and 39), in 1940 Salvador Dalí disembarks in New York to remain on the New Continent for the following eight years. Since the departure from Lisbon, all the artists on the transatlantic had been thinking about strategies to avoid the press. Dalí, on the contrary, was mainly concerned about catching their attention.

Just as the Civil War prompted him to leave Spain, the Second World War made him flee Europe. Dalí himself admitted that he was afraid of war and that he didn’t want to be close to any, but in addition, he was perfectly aware that the USA was virgin territory where to export the Surrealism he had absorbed in Paris. After breaking up with André Breton in 1939, his way of defining that artistic movement was very simple: “Surrealism is me.”

Dalí embraced Breton’s anagram “Avida Dollars” without any remorse, and turned it to his favor, like he had done with so many other negative aspects in his life. Expelled from the family by his father Salvador Dalí Cusí, and struggling economically during the early 30s, Dalí learned the value of money, and because of that surrounded himself with a circle of millionaires that allowed him to have economic stability. The Zodiac Group was then created, and roughly twelve members who agreed to buy any paintings Dalí produced composed it. Among them were Caresse Crosby and the Marquis of Cuevas.

These two characters have a great relevance since both of them sponsored the two most important literary endeavors of the Catalan artist. Caresse Crosby[1] prepared Dalí’s arrival to the US and offered him her mansion in Hampton Manor, Virginia, so he could write the autobiography he would use to present himself to the New World: The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí (Dial Press, 1942)[2]. This way, during 1940 and 1941 Dalí ponders and writes his life in order to provide the keys to understand his world to the American audience.


Dalí’s autobiography was mainly written in French and translated into English by Haakon Chevalier, a professor at Berkeley University. This book first appeared in the US and it was not translated into Spanish until three years later (in Argentina), and ten years later was adapted into French from the original manuscript by Michel Déon (Gallimard, 1952), in a slightly different version than the American[3]. The Secret Life turned into a best seller and was well received by the critics, since it brought about some innovations to the autobiographical genre and many instruments to understand the surrealist movement.

Having written down the first 37 years of his life, Dalí then decided to tackle his most ambitious literary endeavor: the novel Hidden Faces. The autumn of 1943, the aforementioned Marquis of Cuevas[4], a Chilean aristocrat who had married a rich American heir from the Rockefeller family, offers Dalí his mansion in the mountains of New Hampshire (next to the Canadian border) in order to write his great novel, which would be published in the spring of 1944 also by Dial Press.


During his youth Dalí had already shown his talent as a poet and essayist. Two examples could be his long article “Sant Sebastià” (1927) dedicated to his friend Federico García Lorca, or the surrealist poem “L’amour et la mémoire” (1931). In fact, both García Lorca and his father had told him he had a great literary talent and a considerable potential as a writer. It is therefore understandable that Dalí had been waiting for the occasion to focus all his creativity on writing. This is how he explains it in the prologue of Hidden Faces:

¡Más pronto o más tarde, todos están destinados a venir a mi! Muchos, inconmovibles por mis pinturas, conceden que dibujo como Leonardo. Otros, en pugna con mi estética, reconocen que mi autobiografía es uno de los ‘documentos humanos’ de la época. Y otros más, mientras discuten la autenticidad de mi Vida Secreta, han descubierto en mí dotes literarias superiores a la habilidad que revelo en mis cuadros y en lo que denominan la ‘mixtificación de mis confesiones’. Pero nada menos que en 1922, el gran Poeta Federico García Lorca predijo que yo estaba destinado al cumplimiento de una misión literaria y sugirió que mi porvenir reposaba precisamente en la ‘novela pura. (Dalí OC 386)

In many ways, with Hidden Faces Dalí pays homage to his friend Lorca, and thus fulfills his prophecy. It is also important to point out that this high consideration for his own writing was not just circumstantial, but he actually kept it throughout his life. In an interview with Joaquín Soler Serrano in 1977, he is still confident in his literary mission:

Mi padre, que era notario pero que tenía una cierta afición a las artes, decía que soy mucho mejor escribiendo que pintando. Y seguramente es verdad, porque los pintores somos muy burros, en general. En cambio los escritores son mucho más inteligentes. Y si yo fuera menos inteligente pues, indiscutiblemente pintaría mucho mejor.[5]

Many of the interviewers who visited him in Cadaqués ended up taking a copy of his most valued literary testimony: “Entre su voraginosa actividad creativa, Dalí concedió un valor excepcional a su obra literaria. En los años setenta seguía ponderando su novela Rostros ocultos y regalándola a algunos de sus más distinguidos visitantes en Portlligat” (Ródenas 155) as he did, for example, with Bruce Chatwin when this writer was sent by the Sunday Times to write an article. It could be said that Dalí never gave up on trying to make the great effort he dedicated to his novel in the autumn of 1943 pay off.


The American audience probably expected a surrealist novel, but Dalí finished his autobiography saying that he was entering a classicist stage inspired in the Renaissance artists. Therefore, it is not surprising that his literary inspiration was the French classical novel, inspired on authors like Huysmans or Balzac[6], leaving the automatic writing that characterized the surrealist writings aside. However, Dalí distances himself from any influence:

Antes de que mi libro estuviera concluido, se decía que yo estaba escribiendo una novela balzaquiana o huysmansiana. Contrariamente, es una novela estrictamente daliniana, y quienes hayan leído atentamente mi Vida Secreta irán descubriendo prontamente bajo la estructura de la obra la presencia continuada y familiar vigorosa de los mitos esenciales de mi propia vida y de mi mitología. (Dalí OC 386)

But despite Dalí’s individualism, he can’t avoid the influence of many literary classics[7]. It is worth adding that one of the main causes for his classical turn was Dali’s famous interview with Sigmund Freud in London (through Stefan Sweig) on July 19th 1938, in which the father of Psychoanalysis had told him that he saw the conscious in the surrealist paintings and the subconscious in the classical ones. These words of a dying Freud (he would die in 1939) deeply affected Dali, since from the days with the Surrealist group in Paris, the Austrian neurologist had been a reference that he had followed with utmost attention.[8]


Inasmuch as in The Secret Life Dalí had focused on himself in order to explain and justify his evolution as a person (and artist), in his novel he fictionalized many personal aspects of his life. Hidden Faces can be considered a roman à clef filled with references to the real world that can only be deciphered with the appropriate codes.

In this occasion the writing process was similar to his autobiography: he wrote the manuscript in French, Gala made some amendments, and Haakon Chevalier translated it into English, the language in which it was originally published. The main difference is that this time Dalí started the novel from scratch and devoted all his time to it during 4 months working 14-hour days, as he himself reports. The Secret Life on the other hand, had been prepared at a much earlier date, since already in 1938-39 Dalí had been outlining it from Coco Channel’s mansion La Pausa in Roquebrune, close to the Franco-Italian border. As Agustín Sánchez-Vidal has argued, there is a clear connection between both works:

En cualquier caso los dos libros mantienen una cierta continuidad de propósitos, ya que el uno es la vieja piel que se abandona entre las piedras del camino, como hacen las serpientes, antes de adoptar una nueva. Así lo afirma Dalí al final de su Vida Secreta, sin indicar la procedencia de la cita, su muy frecuentado Nietzsche. Aunque este último añadía que la culebra no consuma su muda hasta contar bajo la vieja piel con otra nueva de repuesto. Y ése es, según creo, el papel que cumple Rostros Ocultos. (Dalí OC 63)

We have therefore an exultant Dalí at the peak of his artistic career and extremely motivated, who has examined his existence with The Secret Life, ready to take the next step in his endless creative ambition. His novel was called to be the ultimate challenge, which would confirm that he was an absolute genius, that no artistic discipline escaped him, and that he excelled in every art like a Renaissance man.


Hidden Faces is the story of six characters, each of them inspired on a different insect, which suffer the consequences of the Second World War[9]. According to the translator, Haakon de Chevalier, it is “an epitaph of pre-war Europe (…) It is primarily a novel of decadence. Its basic theme is love-in-death: a treatment in modern dress of the old and perennial Tristan and Isolde myth” (15). The two protagonists are the Count of Grandsailles and Madamme Solange de Cléda. He represents the old French aristocracy, and she is a member of the lower aristocracy courted by many Parisian gentlemen because of her elegance and beauty.

These two characters are inspired by two butterflies: the acherontia atropos and the cledonia frustrata. Madame de Cléda represents the archetype of the mystic woman inspired in Saint Theresa of Avila, who channels her sensuality through spirituality. It is through her that Dalí conceives a new perversion: Cledalism.[10] If the 19th century had seen the appearance of Sadism and Masochism, there was the need of creating a synthesis of both that would consist in taking them to the extreme without completely fulfilling them, in a way in which everything would end up in an great unsatisfied sensuality sublimated through spirituality. Cledalism as a new perversion would also be the key to understanding Dalí.[11]

Aside from Grandsailles and Cléda, the other characters are: Betka, Veronica, John Randolph and the Viscount of Angerville. Betka and Veronica have a strange relationship in which Veronica, a young American woman living in Paris, wants to keep her virginity but channels all her need for love through Betka, ending up in a sort of unfulfilled lesbian relationship.

On the other side, John Randolph is an American that has fought in the Spanish Civil War, where his face ended up severely deformed. He travels to Paris where a Catalan doctor will reconstruct it, and there Veronica falls in love with him under the fake name of Baba. However, in reality she is falling in love with herself, since she can’t see his face. They promise each other they will get married but the Second World War breaks out and Baba goes to fight for the allies.

During the War, Grandsailles and Baba fight together in the Mediterranean, and Baba is declared dead after a plane accident. Grandsailles takes the cross he’s wearing on his chest and after a chain of coincidences, he ends up in New York, at the King Cole Bar of the Saint Regis Hotel (where Dali himself used to stay), and there he meets Veronica Stevens. She believes that Grandsailles is Baba since he is wearing the cross. He doesn’t clarify the confusion, and they start a romance that ends up in marriage.

In the following unpublished original outline preserved among the manuscripts at the Gala-Dali Foundation in Figueres these characters are described in a concise but clear form:

Hideen Fasses [Sic]

Le premier Roman épique

Le primer grand drame de post-guerre

Des passions d’amour absolu; de 6 personnages a travers de 12 ans les plus intenses de l’histoire contemporaine (…)

Randolf, l’ero. Aviateur américain l’home au visage cache celui qui perce les nouages; et qui découvre le ciel (…)

Le Compte de Grandsailles, le deuxième home au visage caché. Home du monde, home d’action, de conspiration, de guerre (…)

Veronica, le mythe de la virginité.

Betka, la “perverse polymorphique”

Solange de Cléda: consumé pour son cledalisme

Sadisme – masochisme – Cledalisme … mysticisme

Le Vicompte d’Angerville, l’aristocratie des sentiments

It has, of course, been said that each of these characters represents a certain dimension of the author and his biography:

Si Randolph representa la evolución ideológica de Dalí en los años treinta, en Betka vemos al Dalí joven y tímido que comparte experiencias con sus colegas de la Residencia de Estudiantes en los años veinte. Muchas anécdotas que señala Dalí en su Vida Secreta tienen su correlato en las vivencias de Betka, la joven estudiante que vive deslumbrada el mundo parisino. En la novela asistimos al juego seductor entre Veronica y Betka, muy próximo al que debió darse entre Lorca y Dalí. (Hernández 35)

This parallelism is even more obvious when Dalí takes his own experience in the US as an almost literal script for his novel.[12] The couple Grandsailles-Stevens (Dalí-Gala) move to Palm Springs, California, where they build a house in the middle of the desert. After some surrealist circumstances, John Randolph (Baba) visits them, while Grandsailles isolates himself more and more in his own world. Despite Veronica’s pushbacks, John Randolph ends up seducing her again, and after becoming aware of it, Grandsailles utters words full of prejudice:

-América es una tierra curiosa, ¿no es cierto, Randolph? –dijo Grandsailles al mismo tiempo que hacía un gesto de desagrado después de haber mordido un trozo de pera que se llevó a la boca con ayuda del tenedor y de haber puesto el cubierto en el borde del plato–. Sus frutos no tienen sabor, sus mujeres no tienen vergüenza, sus hombres no tienen honor.


-Los frutos de nuestra patria –dijo Randolph midiendo cada sílaba que pronunciaba– tienen el sabor de la libertad y la hospitalidad de que usted se ha aprovechado de modo ruin para alimentarse y alimentar sus secretos; nuestras mujeres son esas mujeres a quienes usted intenta estérilmente corromper, pervertir y esterilizar; y nuestros hombres son los hombres que tienen el honor de sacrificar sus vidas en esa Europa de usted para defender el honor que ustedes no fueron lo suficientemente hombres para defender y rindieron vergonzosamente al enemigo.

Grandsailles estaba intentando ponerse en pie; mas antes de que lo hubiera hecho, recibió un golpe terrible de Randolph en pleno rostro que le hizo rodar por el suelo en unión de la silla. (Dalí OC 905-906)

During her exile in the US, Madame de Cléda has been waiting for Grandsailles in France and has kept her lands. But during a period in which she thought that Grandsailles was dead, she had a relationship with his nemesis the Viscount d’Angerville. Through an epistolary exchange Grandsailles keeps his hope up, but she finally confesses that she had an affair with his great enemy and is finally rejected. When she receives the last letter with this information, Cléda lets herself die. When Grandsailles gets back disappointed by his American adventure he realizes that he has destroyed what he loved the most and ends up covering his face with his hands in front of the field of oaks that Cléda had planted in the illuminated plain (the plain of l’Empordà). These oaks symbolize the strength of the European nobility, in contrast with the Americans that are portrayed as immature powerful children.


The reaction of the American critics was firm and devastating. Whereas The Secret Life had received much praise[13] and only a few negative criticisms, such as George Orwell, who considered that the book stunk, Hidden Faces was considered a “literary curiosity” and Dalí “as good a novelist as the creator of Mme. Tussaud’s Waxworks in London.” (Smith 12) Along those lines, Alan Benoit described the book as a “stew” in which Dalí had mixed up everything he had available in his kitchen. (Benoit 27)

Many of the critics seem to attack Dalí for his literary intrusion and they even transmit hostility and condescendence, often accusing him of not having taken the appropriate intellectual references for his novel. It is important to point out that some of the critics do not even describe the plot properly and seemed totally unacquainted with Dali’s cosmogony, in part due to not having read The Secret Life. On the other hand they do acknowledge the fact that the novel has the merit of tackling an urgent topic: the Epitaph of the Prewar Europe (Mayberry 790). Edmund Wilson states that Hidden Faces is one of the most old-fashioned novels written in years, and that even though it has the merit of talking about important topics, the way Dali describes the Second World War he might as well be talking about the Crimean War or the fall of the Second Empire. (Wilson 61)

After such disappointing critical reception, the novel is practically forgotten for more than three decades. In the 70s however, some new criticism appeared in the US, and particularly in France due to the translation of the novel in 1973 (Éditions Stock). James Walt praises Dalí’s capacity to identify himself with the characters, particularly when it comes to the precision of their pleasure and pain (a virtue that dates back to Dalí’s early essay “Sant Sebastià”), which may make us “smile without condescension at his boast that he is a better psychologist than Proust. Unfortunately Dali isn’t satisfied to be the author of a witty and occasionally soberly philosophic novel. Nor is he satisfied to impress when he has the means to astonish. Hence his indulgence in the big lush word for the big lush word’s sake.” (Walt 26) Thirty years after its appearance Hidden Faces is taken more seriously, and some critics realize that Dali’s boastful self-praising may not have been so exaggerated. In any case, they still agree that he indulged too much in his mannerist ability.


In terms of French criticism, in her all-encompassing but sometimes superficial dissertation on Dalí’s written work, Annemieke Van de Pas points out the three most relevant:

First, José Pierre invites the reader to give Dalí a chance and he puts him in contrast with others: “Equidistant from Georges Onet and Roussel, even from d’Octave Feuillet and Witkiewicz, it is a great popular novel of heroic and mundane costumes. Don’t read anymore Proust, Thomas Mann or Dos Passos, read Dalí!” (quoted in Van de Pas 146) Secondly, Dominique Fernández expresses an ambivalent opinion: “Visages Cachés, rather than a novel it is an ardent dream, an enormous delirium, a message, a prophecy… The anti-dalinians will reinforce their positions in front of this surrealist blend of petulant puerility and empty discourse.” (quoted in Van de Pas 146) And finally, Bertrand Poirot-Delpech trashes the novel without mercy: “So much annoying nonsense only to show that Visages Cachés is at the same time under its literary ambitions and under its humoristic bad taste. A strange book, in which the disarray of the European elite between 1934 and 1935 takes the shape of a baroque pastiche of Laclos and Proust passed through Huysmans and Charles Plisnier!” (quoted in Van de Pas 146)

Regarding the more contemporary criticism, Hidden Faces not only has acquired value with time, but it has also been said that it should be studied in much more detail due to its endless possibilities. After identifying multiple influences of different authors in the novel, Agustín Sánchez Vidal considers tackling it as a whole a very challenging project:

¿Para qué seguir? Es evidente que el pintor echó el resto en esta novela, que significaba mucho para él, y que sigue siendo una de sus obras más enigmáticas. Una novela tan inclasificable como a ratos premiosa. Y a pesar de ello, fascinante. Tan en serio se la tomó que llegó a incluir a sus personajes de ficción en las crónicas mundanas del primer número de su periódico unipersonal, Dalí News (20-11-1945) (…) Es pronto para emitir juicios definitivos sobre una obra que –como tantos textos aquí incluidos- necesitará de grandes excavaciones textuales y otros estudios pormenorizados sobre la procedencia de sus eclécticos materiales. (Dalí OC 75)

It is interesting to notice that since the editing of Dali’s Complete Works in 2004 his texts have received great academic attention, particularly by a new generation that never knew the artist during his lifetime. That speaks for itself in terms of the value and autonomy of Dali’s written work. A recent example could be Efrem Gordillo’s work Dalí, el gran pensador or the Ph. D. dissertation by Mathilde Hamel “La période américaine de Salvador Dalí (1938-1948) et sa production écrite” which is about to be published. These new texts can be added to the already existing by Felix Fanés, Haim Finkelstein, Myriam Whatthée-Delmotte, Rafael Santos Torroella, Ian Gibson and others already quoted in this essay.


Despite the fierce criticism that the novel received because of its atavistic boldness, Dalí dares to comment, and above all, ironize about history, engaging with the past, present and future. That is not a unique feature of Hidden Faces, since during his period in the US Dalí wrote and published his own newspaper, the “Dalí News”, where he emulated Nostradamus somehow continuing the Spanish picaresque tradition. Diego Torres de Villarroel, the last representative of this tradition in the 18th century with his autobiography Vida, ascendencia, nacimiento, crianza y aventuras, also made prophecies in his famous Almanaques. An example of prophecy in Hidden Faces is the imminent death of Hitler in the eagle’s nest surrounded by the great works of art of the European tradition plundered from the countries the Nazis invaded during the war. Around him we see The Marriage of the Virgin by Raphael, The Virgin of the Rocks by Leonardo, The Winged Victory of Samothrace, etc. all of which are his hostage protection against a bombardment that would destroy so many masterpieces. Dalí understood Hitler as a true masochist, who actually wanted to lose the war, but by playing according to the rules and trying to win it before achieving the self-fulfilling final annihilation. After the Fuhrer’s suicide in his Berlin bunker in 1945 Dalí claimed that he had already foreseen that two years earlier.

Already at the end of his 1942 autobiography Dalí was pointing towards his novel as a way of dramatizing his own passing through history: “Je viens d’écrire ce long livre des secrets de ma vie, qui seul pouvait me donner l’autorité nécessaire pour être entendu. Et je veux être entendu du monde entier, car je suis l’incarnation la plus représentative de l’Europe d’après-guerre, en ayant vécu toutes les aventures, toutes les expériences, tous les drames.” (Dalí La Vie 434) »

Hidden Faces is thus very close and dear to the author, as well as profoundly autobiographical. As has been hinted at before, one of the last drafts had Dalí and Gala as characters of the novel. Other characters are inspired on the decadent aristocracy that Dalí had mingled with before his voluntary exile in the US, such as the painter Josep Maria Sert, his wife Misia and their visitors at the Mas Juny in Palamós. In the correspondence between Josep Maria Sert and Gaston Bergery preserved at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, there is often a reference being made to Bettina, which is the name of one of the protagonists of Dalí’s first draft of the novel, and that is also the name of Bergery’s wife.

Furthermore, the presence of Lorca, Dali’s father and Gala is also undeniable. The character Maitre de Girardin for example is a notary inspired in Salvador Dalí Cusí (who was the notary of Figueres), but the way he is killed by the Nazi troops is described exactly as Lorca’s execution by the Spanish national troops in Granada. In a way, Dalí is killing both his father and Lorca through Maître Girardin, and the role that Lorca played in Dalí’s life will be substituted by Gala. Lorca’s influence in Hidden Faces is undeniable, as Ian Gibson has proved in Lorca-Dali. El amor que no pudo ser. (Gibson 303-311) Dalí was afraid of being homosexual and Gala wasn’t comfortable with the influence Lorca had on him, so his symbolic death along his father is a way for Dalí to rid himself of the ghosts that had followed him from the Old Continent. The superposition of the two most important faces of his life, Lorca and Gala, can be seen through the final words of the 1974 prologue for the Spanish edition:

Y para terminar: mucho se ha escrito y se escribirá sobre los dos protagonistas de la presente novela, ya que sus rostros respectivos están tan refinadamente encubiertos que los unos han dicho que bajo la personalidad diabólica del conde de Grandsailles se esconden las experiencias perversas de la tierna edad de los diecinueve años del propio Salvador Dalí en persona, y otros que, al contrario, el Dalí de hoy se esconde aún más hipócritamente bajo la personalidad semi-angelical de la protagonista Solange de Cléda. Lo cierto es que al principio de los días nublados de octubre, en las planicies solitarias de las dunas de Ampurias, del lado sur de las excavaciones, y a veces en pleno mediodía, se puede oír una voz angustiadísima que se parece mucho a la voz aceitunada de Salvador Dalí y que dice:


Dalí had, in fact, spent some time with Lorca in the beaches of Ampurias in 1927, during the highest intensity of their friendship, and he even made a drawing of the poet at the south of the archaeological site. Therefore, when he writes the name “Gala” at the end, he is also referring to his friend Lorca.

The unveiling of some of these personal details leads to the question of whether this novel can transmit more “truth” about Dalí than the autobiography written only two years before. Some novelists like André Gide or François Mauriac argued that, in autobiography, the author tends to project an idealized image of her or himself, while in the novel one can see better who the author really is through the characters and their actions, since he or she is not trying to justify him or herself in such a direct manner. Philip Lejeune, who coined the concept of “autobiographical pact” faces this question by reducing it to the absurd in the following terms:

What is this ‘truth’ that the novel makes more accessible than autobiography does, except the personal, individual, intimate truth of the author, that is to say, the truth to which any autobiographical project aspires? So we might say, it is as autobiography that the novel is declared the truer. (Lejeune 26-27)

Referring to this debate and to the limits of the autobiographical genre in relation to fiction, Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson expand the borders of the concept of literary “truth” and dissolve the debate so that a text like Hidden Faces could practically be considered belonging to both genres:

Truth to what? To facticity? To experience? To self? To history? To community? Truth to the said, to the unsaid, to other fictions (of man, of woman, of American, of black, etc.), to the genre? And truth for what and for whom? For the autobiographer? The reader? Society? At a time in the West when the autobiographical seems to surround us and yet when the autobiographical and novelistic seem to have merged inextricably with one another, what does it mean to ask about the perplexed relationship of the autobiographical to truthtelling? (Smith & Watson 148)

Such overture of the autobiographical and novelistic genre, and the relativity of the idea of “truth” reinforce the idea that Hidden Faces can indeed be the master key to understand Dalí, and that it needs to be studied much more in depth. To close up, and as a final example, among the manuscripts preserved at the Dalí foundation in Figueres, the following sentence can be found: “Un caprice érotique que durera toute notre vie” and next to it, a comment by Gala that says: “BON”. The non-consummated eroticism channeled in spirituality (Cledalism) was a motif that never disappeared from the life and work of Salvador Dalí and was used as a leit-motif both in painting and literature. Ut Pictura Poiesis.



-Benoit, Alan. “The Face on the Floor”. The New Masses, August 15, 1944.

-Chevalier, Haakon. The Saturday Review of Literature, April 15, 1944.

-Dalí, Salvador. Obra Completa. Poesía, Prosa, Teatro y Cine. Vol. III

——La Vie Secrète de Salvador Dalí. Gallimard, 2002.

-Fernandez, Dominique. L’Express. 12 Novembre, 1973

-García de la Rasilla, Carmen. Salvador Dali’s Self-Portrait. Approaches to a Surrealist Autobiography. Bucknell University Press, 2009

-Gibson, Ian. Lorca-Dali. El amor que no pudo ser. Debolsillo – Penguin Ranodm House, 1999.

-Gordillo, Efrem. Dalí, el gran pensador. Llegat d’un escriptor desconegut. Editorial Deu i Onze, 2013

-Hernández, Patricio. “Los rostros ocultos de Gala y Dalí”. Insula n. 689 “La escritura de Salvador Dalí (1904-2004) mayo 2004.

-Ilie, Paul. The Surrealist Mode in Spanish Literature. The University of Michigan Press. Ann Arbor. 1968.

-Lejeune, Philippe. On Autobiogrpahy. University of Minnesota Press, 1989.

-Mayberry, George. “Once Over Lightly”. The New Republic, June 12, 1944.

-Pierre, José. La Quinzaine litérarire, March 15, 1974.

-Ródenas de Moya, Domingo. “El mito de la vida verdadera en la Vida Secreta de Salvador Dalí”. Tintas. Quaderni di letterature iberiche e iberoamericane, 2 (2012), pp. 153-172.

-Smith, Sidonie and Watson, Julia Reading Autobiography. A Guide for Interpreting Life Narratives. University of Minnesota Press, 2010.

-Smith, Harrisson. “Salvador Dali in Your Bathtub”. The Saturday Review, June 24, 1944.

-Van de Pas, Annemieke. Salvador Dalí. L’obra literària. Editorial Mediterrània, 1989.

-Walt, James. “Hidden Faces by Salvador Dali”. The New Republic, May 18, 1974.

-Wilson, Edmund. “Salvador Dali as a Novelist”. The New Yorker, July 1, 1944.


[1] Caresse Crosby is credited as the inventor of the modern female brasier, even though her great wealth was inherited from her husband, a millionaire who killed himself along with his lover in a suicide pact.

[2] For an in depth study of The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí see García de la Rasilla. However, this is such a multifaceted work that it requires a further study, especially in relation to the novel Hidden Faces.

[3] In 2006 Frédérique Joseph-Lowery transcribed the original manuscript with all the corrections by Dalí himself also rectifying some of the creative licences that Michel Déon had taken.

[4] During the 40s he was an important ballet producer in New York and funded some of Dalí’s ballets such as Bacanal, Labyrith or Mad Tristan with Leonide Massine.

[5] http://www.rtve.es/alacarta/videos/a-fondo/entrevista-salvador-dali-programa-fondo-1977/388736/

[6] Dalí had a francophone education at the Colegio Hispano-Francés de la Immaculada Concepción de Figueres and not only spoke and wrote French fluidly, but his literary references were also French.

[7] In his introduction to the Complete Works published by Destino in 2004, Agustín Sanchez Vidal identifies the following influences: Huysmans À rebours, Petronius Satiricon, Bocaccio’s Decameron, Briffault’s Europa, etc. as well as Joseph de Maistre, Sade, Laclos, Balzac, Stendahl, Gobineau, Proust, Roussel, Lautréamont and references to Calderon de la Barca, Lope de Vega, Valle-Inclán, Quededo, Gongora, El Cid and, above all, Lorca. (Dalí OC 75)

[8] In The Secret Life, for example, Dalí attributes himself a great number of psychoanalytical perversions and disorders, including those described by Jaques Lacan (Dr. Alcan in the novel) in a way that, by accepting them, he sublimates them all at once.

[9] In relation to insects, in the manuscripts of the novel we can find the following sentence: “La conflagration mondiale allait transformé l’homme en insecte”. For more about the animalization of Dalí’s characters see Paul Ilie’s book The Surrealist Mode in Spanish Literature.

[10] This perversion had already been part of Dali’s life for some time, and it will continue afterwards in his interrupted orgies where, after a careful preparation, a minimal detail would make him frustrate the event, always in pursuit of an unattainable “plus ultra”.

[11] Regarding this concept it is interesting to point out that in the manuscripts preserved in the Gala-Dalí Foundation, during the initial chapters Gala corrects the word Clédal for Clédat. Finally Dalí decides to leave Clédal since it allows him to play with words and include his own name in “Cledalism”. However, in the final version, the name “Cléda” is consolidated.

[12] Probably due to stylistic reasons, in one of the final drafts of the novel Dalí decides to eliminate all the references to himself as a character and narrator. The following eliminated fragment shows how him and Gala met Veronica Stevens and Grandsailles under the fake last name of “Nodier”: “I had been living for three months with my wife Gala in Palm Springs where I had begun my autobiography (…) We were invited to dinner at the Nodiers on three occasions and once rode out to the oasis and visited their tower which was then being built (…) I had known the count of Grandsailles in Paris merely by name and it was only towards the end of the war that I was able to discover the latter’s true personality hidden under the name of Nodier (…) And Gala, with her clairvoyant lucidity, made the following observations about the persons we had just met who, as I was far from suspecting, were to become the characters of my future novel” (p. 450)

[13] Time magazine had described it as “one of the most irresistible books of the year” and on January 10th 1943, according to the San Francisco Chronicle it is the fourth most sold book in non-fiction.