Leonora, Fly!

I've written about Leonora Carrington before on this blog and I'm thrilled to have a short story inspired by her work and life included in this new academic book, edited by Ailsa Cox, James Hewitson, Michelle Man and Roger Shannon, and published by Vernon Press.

Praise for the book:
LEONORA CARRINGTON: LIVING LEGACIES puts the accent on “living” and offers the reader a fascinating collection of essays written by many presenters from the Leonora Carrington Centenary Symposium held at Edge Hill University in Lancashire, England in 2017, and located quite near to Carrington’s early childhood home Crookhey Hall, in Lancashire.

This volume  presents a body of papers that take us on many journeys into the creative works, in many genres being done today by those who have not only studied Carrington’s visual art and writings, but who have lived with it, danced with it,  and experienced it by obtaining access to Crookhey Hall, the mansion she lived in as a child. Spending weeks there they could commune physically, emotionally, and spiritually  with the living traces of her energy  that they could absorb by visiting the nooks and crannies, the hidden secret places , the architecture and the birds imprinted on the windows, the stained glass, the atrium etc. for weeks of creation.   The dancers and the theatre troupe were deeply sensitive to her spirit, and they learned to yield to everything they imbibed as they left no stone unturned. We readers are present with them as they learned to yield to “dance with Leonora.”

In addition to essays about these explorations, we find poetry written in contemplation of her works and a short story and a paper inspired by her literary influence on contemporary writers. Here too are new analyses of DOWN BELOW, leading to expanded and intensely perceptive interpretations of the transformation from woman-child to woman-artist that she underwent during her internment in an asylum in Spain. They explore the special alchemy she lived through and even bring us the medical pronouncement of her psychiatrist that met with one of the scholars before he passed away. It was his conviction that she was not ‘mad” but that her breakdown was caused by a combination of circumstances, notably the war that had caused Max Ernst to be taken away leaving her alone to confront her situation on multiple levels.  

In all of the papers and creative works presented here, one feels the integrated balance of the mind, the heart and the body of these scholars and artists working in harmony to reach out to Leonora’s many worlds to deepen our understanding of her prescient wisdom. She taught us to remember that we are not above nature, but part of it, and in important essays about “The Hearing Trumpet,” a focus on aging women pierces through the bonds of patriarchy and other oppressive hierarchies and fills us with a love for all the creatures of the planet  who accompany Marion Leatherby , the protagonist on her final journey to Lapland, spreading the joy and hope that these non-human and hybrid avatars will leave a better legacy for Planet Earth than we have done.

This volume is exciting, moving, and innovative as it balances the gravitas of the experiences in Leonora’s life history with the cautionary tales and surrealist humor that open a window for us
on how she survived all forms of exclusion and suppression, through her belief that everything in our world is alive and sacred.

Gloria Orenstein,
Prof . Emerita , University of Southern California