Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

The House of Fear - A Short Story by Leonora Carrington - 1937 - translated from the French by Kathrine Talbot with Marina Warner:

A Lovely Reading of The House of Fear

“When I got home I lit a little fire to prepare my meal. I had a cup of tea, thought about my day and mostly about the horse whom, though I’d only known him a short time, I called my friend. I have few friends and am glad to have a horse for a friend. After the meal I smoked a cigarette and mused on the luxury it would be to go out, instead of talking to myself and boring myself to death with the same endless stories I’m forever telling myself. I am a very boring person, despite my enormous intelligence and distinguished appearance, and nobody knows this better than I. I’ve often told myself that if only I were given the opportunity, I’d perhaps become the centre of intellectual society. But by dint of talking to myself so much, I tend to repeat the same things all the time. But what can you expect? I’m a recluse. It was in the course of these reflections that my friend the horse knocked on my door, with such force that I was afraid the neighbours would complain.” - From “The House of Fear”  who among us has not had such thoughts during breakfast?

Leonora Carrington- Britain's Last Surrealist Tate Shots. A wonderful beautifully done video -  (By the author of The Surreal Life of Leonora Carrington, Joanna Moorhead, includes a conversation with  Carrington as well as images of her art)

I will remember April, 2017 as the month I "discovered" Leonora Carrington.  I know most of us living a reading life have had the experience of being amazed by a new to us writer, someone you had never even heard about before the day you first read their work.  You do a bit of Googling only to learn you are seemingly among the very few who have not long ago read their work.  This is a humbling experience but also one of the great pleasures of the reading life world has to offer.  This is how I feel now about Leonora Carrington.  (Be sure and look at her art work also.)

In observation of the 100th birth anniversary (April 6, 1917) of Leonora Carrington two collections of her short stories and a fascinating sounding biography by Joanna Moorhead, The Surreal Life of Leonora Carrington a
were published. Carrington was very closely associated with the Surrealist movement, both personally and artistically.  (In the long ago I visited the Museum of the Museo Nationale de Anthropologia in Mexico City where I must have seen one of her works.  Her art is on display in major museums throughout the world.) 

“The House of Fear” is literary surealism.  Gloria Orenstein in her introduction to the 1975 collection of six of works said:

"Leonora Carrington's express the system of being through occult parables whose true meaning becomes accessible to those initiated into the specific form of symbolism that a work displays. The symbols are emblems derived from a deep knowledge of alchemy, Cabala, Magic, the Tarot, witchcraft and mythology".

I have issues with the notion of short stories having "a true meaning" but this is an illuminating remark.  Long long ago I was quite into the occult, I studied various systems of Magik, Asian texts, gnosticism, symbolism from The Tarot, the teachings of the order of The Golden Dawn, Cabalistic teachings.  I can see, or perhaps project, much of this onto her art work and in her stories.

My main purpose here is to let interested parties know they can listen to this story on YouTube and to keep a record of my reading.  Like lots of her narrators,the central and only human character is an isolated woman with issues, mutual no doubt, with society.  A  horse invites her to a party and she agrees to go.  The party is very strange and seems to pretend danger.

“The House of Fear”  will have you probing your Jungian archetypes.

Orleander Boussweau

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