In this paper i present and analyse brassaï's paroles en l'air, a little-known collection of exercises in oral literature started by the famous photographer and sculptor during the german occupation of paris. 1 this book is interesting for several reasons. It is firstly a rare example of the direct influence of photography on literary writing. Texts and photographs are not simply juxtaposed. Nor does some common ‘zeitgeist’ connect them, as erwin panofsky might have said. There is, on the contrary, an attempt by brassaï's artist to imitate, by means of textual devices, ‘the spirit of photography’. Secondly, the example provided by brassai is also very useful for examining our contemporary vision of surrealism, a literary and artistic movement we consider now, thanks to the landmark articles of rosalind krauss, to be heavily dominated by the photographic medium.