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Down Below
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Published:
New York Review Books 2017
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Description
A stunning work of memoir and an unforgettable depiction of the brilliance and madness by one of Surrealism's most compelling figuresIn 1937 Leonora Carrington—later to become one of the twentieth century's great painters of the weird, the alarming, and the wild—was a nineteen-year-old art student in London, beautiful and unapologetically rebellious. At a dinner party, she met the artist Max Ernst. The two fell in love and soon departed to live and paint together in a farmhouse in Provence. In 1940, the invading German army arrested Ernst and sent him to a concentration camp. Carrington suffered a psychotic break. She wept for hours. Her stomach became "the mirror of the earth"—of all worlds in a hostile universe—and she tried to purify the evil by compulsively vomiting. As the Germans neared the south of France, a friend persuaded Carrington to flee to Spain. Facing the approach "of robots, of thoughtless, fleshless beings," she packed a suitcase that bore on a brass plate the word Revelation. This was only the beginning of a journey into madness that was to end with Carrington confined in a mental institution, overwhelmed not only by her own terrible imaginings but by her doctor's sadistic course of treatment. In Down Below she describes her ordeal—in which the agonizing and the marvelous were equally combined—with a startling, almost impersonal precision and without a trace of self-pity. Like Daniel Paul Schreber's Memoirs of My Nervous Illness, Down Below brings the hallucinatory logic of madness home.
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
04/18/2017
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781681370613
ASIN:
B01I85OMQ6
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

leonora Carrington. (2017). Down Below. New York Review Books.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

leonora Carrington. 2017. Down Below. New York Review Books.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

leonora Carrington, Down Below. New York Review Books, 2017.

MLA Citation (style guide)

leonora Carrington. Down Below. New York Review Books, 2017. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Added:
Jun 12, 2018 17:11:13
Date Updated:
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      • bioText: Leonora Carrington (1917–2011) was born in England and spent most of her adult life in Mexico City, where she participated in the surrealist movement as an artist, painter, and novelist.
        Marina Warner is a writer of fiction and cultural history. Her books include Alone of All Her Sex: The Myth and the Cult of the Virgin Mary (l976), Joan of Arc: The Image of Female Heroism (l982) and Monuments & Maidens: The Allegory of the Female Form (l988). In l994 she gave the BBC Reith Lectures on the theme of Six Myths of Our Time. She has explored the fairy tale tradition in From the Beast to the Blonde (l994) and No Go the Bogeyman: On Scaring, Lulling and Making Mock (l998). Her study of the Thousand and One Nights, Stranger Magic: Charmed States and The Arabian Nights(2011) was awarded a Sheykh Zayed Prize in 2012, a National Book Critics Circle Award and the Truman Capote Prize. She has curated exhibitions, including The Inner Eye (l996), Metamorphing(2002-3), and Only Make-Believe: Ways of Playing (2005). Her third novel, The Lost Father, was short-listed for the Booker prize in 1988; it was followed by Indigo, a retelling of The Tempest, and, in 2000, by The Leto Bundle, a novel about a refugee travelling in time. Her third collection of short stories, Fly Away Home, was published last year. She gave the Weidenfeld lectures at Oxford this year on the theme of literature and stories as a form of sanctuary, and is currently developing a project for storytelling in refugee communities. She is writing a memoir-novel about her childhood in Egypt and a dance libretto inspired by Arabic women's poetry, with the choreographer Kim Brandstrup and the musician Joanna MacGregor. Marina is a Fellow of the British Academy, was awarded the DBE, and is Professor of English and Creative Writing at Birkbeck College, and a Professorial Research Fellow, SOAS, She was given the Holberg Prize in the Arts and Humanities in 2015.
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title
Down Below
fullDescription
A stunning work of memoir and an unforgettable depiction of the brilliance and madness by one of Surrealism's most compelling figures
In 1937 Leonora Carrington—later to become one of the twentieth century's great painters of the weird, the alarming, and the wild—was a nineteen-year-old art student in London, beautiful and unapologetically rebellious. At a dinner party, she met the artist Max Ernst. The two fell in love and soon departed to live and paint together in a farmhouse in Provence.
In 1940, the invading German army arrested Ernst and sent him to a concentration camp. Carrington suffered a psychotic break. She wept for hours. Her stomach became "the mirror of the earth"—of all worlds in a hostile universe—and she tried to purify the evil by compulsively vomiting. As the Germans neared the south of France, a friend persuaded Carrington to flee to Spain. Facing the approach "of robots, of thoughtless, fleshless beings," she packed a suitcase that bore on a brass plate the word Revelation.
This was only the beginning of a journey into madness that was to end with Carrington confined in a mental institution, overwhelmed not only by her own terrible imaginings but by her doctor's sadistic course of treatment. In Down Below she describes her ordeal—in which the agonizing and the marvelous were equally combined—with a startling, almost impersonal precision and without a trace of self-pity. Like Daniel Paul Schreber's Memoirs of My Nervous Illness, Down Below brings the hallucinatory logic of madness home.
reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Anwen Crawford, The New Yorker
      • content: "In her centenary year, Carrington is undergoing a revival...Down Below is both a recollection of madness and a kind of transcription. Though Carrington completed it after the fact, her memoir hews closely to her thoughts and feelings as they were then."
      • premium: False
      • source: Carmen Maria Machado, NPR
      • content: "So vivid is Carrington's step-by-step descent into madness...it is possible to read Down Below in a single sitting, but emotionally quite difficult... [You] get the distinct impression that for Carrington, reality is malleable."
      • premium: False
      • source: Carol Cooper, The Village Voice
      • content: "Down Below recounts Carrington's incarceration in a Spanish asylum and her daring escape in a tone so cool that even the most harrowing details have a delayed effect on the reader, like the timed release of a potent drug. Her use of language is as precise as an artist's choice of line or color, which helps her express the inexpressible."
      • premium: False
      • source: Publishers Weekly
      • content: "[B]rief and unflinchingly honest...a candid, painful, and personal account of someone's darkest hours...In a very helpful introduction to the book, novelist Marina Warner writes that Carrington was persuaded to write the memoir by surrealism's literary founder, André Breton, who viewed her genuine, unaffected descent into true madness as surrealism at its most pure. As such, it seems a case can be made that this little book is indeed the gold standard of surrealist literature."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        February 6, 2017
        First published in 1943, surrealist painter and novelist Carrington’s brief and unflinchingly honest first-person account traces the author’s descent into (and recovery from) clinical insanity. The narrative is set in motion in 1940 when Carrington’s lover, artist Max Ernst (a married man, 26 years her senior), is sent to a concentration camp at Les Milles, France. Carrington experiences a period of hysteria and intense self-punishment, including frequent voluntary vomiting, and then, accompanied by two friends, she travels from France across the Spanish boarder, fleeing the Germans. All the while, Carrington’s grip on reality slips away. Once in Madrid, she is clearly insane, convinced that Germany is winning the war because of secret Nazi agents who wield supernatural hypnotic powers. Placed in a sanitarium, her delusions continue; she acts like various animals, devises conspiracies, and believes herself to be the third person of the Holy Trinity. It’s difficult to read such a candid, painful, and personal account of someone’s darkest hours, and Carrington’s detached, matter-of-fact recounting of her most undignified, wrenching moments is unnerving. In a very helpful introduction to the book, novelist Marina Warner (The Lost Father) writes that Carrington was persuaded to write the memoir by surrealism’s literary founder, André Breton, who viewed her genuine, unaffected descent into true madness as surrealism at its most pure. As such, it seems a case can be made that this little book is indeed the gold standard of surrealist literature.

popularity
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shortDescription
A stunning work of memoir and an unforgettable depiction of the brilliance and madness by one of Surrealism's most compelling figures
In 1937 Leonora Carrington—later to become one of the twentieth century's great painters of the weird, the alarming, and the wild—was a nineteen-year-old art student in London, beautiful and unapologetically rebellious. At a dinner party, she met the artist Max Ernst. The two fell in love and soon departed to live and paint together in a farmhouse in Provence.
In 1940, the invading German army arrested Ernst and sent him to a concentration camp. Carrington suffered a psychotic break. She wept for hours. Her stomach became "the mirror of the earth"—of all worlds in a hostile universe—and she tried to purify the evil by compulsively vomiting. As the Germans neared the south of France, a friend persuaded Carrington to flee to Spain. Facing the approach "of robots, of thoughtless, fleshless beings,"...
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