Salvador Dalí's "Diary Of A Genius" is an autobiography that manages to be both entirely naturalistic and egoistic at the same time, without ever feeling forced or contrived. The language and form is not as surreal as one would expect from Dalí's art, although the content frequently manages to be. What is immediately striking is the realisation that his choice of title is not ironic or self-deprecating, but his honest self-assessment. More than this, he refers to himself in terms that would be described, in Nietzschean terminology, as "superhuman". To whit:
"Ever since the French Revolution there has been growing up a vicious, cretinizing tendency to consider a genius as a human being... This is false. And if it is false when applied to me, the genius, it is even more false when applied to those who, like the almost divine Raphael, embodied the very genius of the Renaissance."
Another remarkable thing about this remarkable book is Dalí's painstaking attention to detail. He is fascinated with his own bodily functions and their meanings. A whole appendix is dedicated to the "Art of Farting". It seems his sincere belief that, due to his importance as a unique phenomena that has never existed, and never will exist again, that the minutiae of his life should be recorded for posterity. A great deal of July 1952 is concerned with a small scab that has formed on lip. All other events are put in the context of, and related to, this scab. Once again, he provides an explanation for himself:
"This book will prove that the daily life of a genius, his sleep, his digestion, his ecstasies, his nails, his colds, his blood, his life and death are essentially different from those of the rest of mankind. This book, then, is the first diary written by a genius."
It must be noted that Dalí's craftsmanship of prose does not match that of his brush. Which is not to say that Dali is not a talented writer, far from it. I, personally, am only able to read the English translation, and therefore cannot pass judgment on Dalí's actual use of language. However, the complexity of ideas that he is able to present on canvas do not translate well to the written word. This can make his writing sometime ponderous, occasionally tedious when his ideas do not prove outrageous or compelling enough to support it. And there in lies the whole crux of this book. It is not to be enjoyed a great work of literature, but rather an incomplete self-portrait of a magnificently flawed individual.