Monday, June 05, 2017

Leonora Carrington: 'Down Below' (1943, 1987, 2017)

In Down Below (1943, 1987, 2017), Leonora Carrington (1917-2011) provides a vivid and harrowing account of the artist's descent into madness in the wake of the German occupation of France in 1940, which also brought about the end of her most intimate time spent with German artist Max "Loplop" Ernst (1891-1976), who in the middle of all this ditched his wife and her and the oncoming Nazis for Peggy Guggenheim (1898-1979) and New York City. Leonora eventually settled in Mexico, where she expanded her surrealistic vision. 

"Note on the Text" (page 69). Carrington wrote up the original draft in 1942 in New York City; the draft, apparently lost or destroyed, was first translated into French by one person and then translated back into English by another. Finally, in 1987, this third variation of the original text was "reviewed and revised for factual accuracy by Leonora Carrington . . ." 

Down Below, at 68 pages, is a fast and furious read -- just what the Surrealist doctor ordered. It should be noted that Carrington's ordeal was made much more agonizing by the treatment she received at the hands of various and sundry "mental health workers." 

Leonora Carrington, Down Below. Introduction by Marina Warner. New York: New York Review of Books, 2017. 

Today's Rune: Journey

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