2018 Reading List (More info on the blog!)
This year, we will have another guiding theme and will again meet just three times. We will be reading three different selections by women who were associated with the surrealist movement. All three of these women were known primarily for their artwork, but they produced great writing that was overshadowed by the better-known male figures who dominated the surrealist movement.
Many people dismiss surrealism as melting clocks and nonsense, but it is keenly concerned with getting beyond (or beneath) “sense,” and exploring the darkest and most rewarding corners of the unconscious, often employing dream imagery.
16 April 2018
The Hearing Trumpet by Leonora Carrington
First we will read The Hearing Trumpet, a delightful short novel by Leonora Carrington. The 92-year-old protagonist Marian Leatherby receives a silver and mother of pearl encrusted hearing trumpet from her good friend Carmella, and, when she places it to her ear, she learns of her family’s plan to ship her off to an institution run by the Well of Light Brotherhood and financed by a “prominent American cereal company.” Expect to laugh out loud as Marian learns about the mysterious past of the institution and the winking abbess portrayed in oil in the dining room. That surrealist wink starts a chain of events that will turn the institution upside down.
13 August 2018
The Crying of the Wind: Ireland by Ithell Colquhoun
Ithell Colquhoun, who was expelled from the English surrealists for occult practices, will be our tour guide through Ireland in this one-of-a-kind piece of travel writing. Her pagan/pantheistic sense of the natural world gives her account of her Irish travels in the mid-twentieth century a strange timelessness. Her style has a rare elegance and her quirky personality is immensely appealing.
10 December 2018
The Lost Lunar Baedeker: Poems by Mina Loy
We will finish the year with a collection of poetry by Mina Loy, described by Wikipedia as “artist, writer, poet, playwright, novelist, futurist, feminist, designer of lamps, and bohemian.” Long out of print, Loy’s strange and beautiful poetry was rereleased in the late 1990s. Both her style and her subject matter shocked many, but the greatest poets of her day, including T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, and William Carlos Williams, considered her an artistic equal. The introduction states, “In order to read her with profit, you need at least four things: patience, intelligence, experience, and a dictionary.” Don’t be intimidated by the work (or poetry in general). To paraphrase Archibald MacLeish, a poem doesn’t mean a thing, it is a thing. Enjoy the music in Loy’s language and pick some pieces to read over a few times.