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

Friday, May 5, 2017

"The Oval Lady" by Leonora Carrington (1939, republished in 1975)

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)

Leonora Carrington A Surrealist Trip 

"The Occult Lady" was first published in 1939, in French along with six other stories.  In 1975 it was republished in English, translated by Rochelle Holt.  As far as I can determine it out of print and may still be under copyright protection in many countries.  I found online a PDF of the collection, which you can download and read if you wish.  I don't know a lot about Lucretia Carrington but I am pretty sure she would not mind.

As of now I have read and posted upon four of Lenora Carrington's surrealistic short stories.  All are quite brief and can be given a first read in five minutes or so.  Carrington is best known for her art.  Authorities on her work suggest you need an understanding of the symbolism of magic, alchemy, witchcraft and Mexican mythology to decipher the meaning of her stories.  In the long ago I made a bit of a study of such things but I resist for now seeing the best way to way to experience her fiction as attempting to decipher hidden meanings accessible only to occult initiates.

Violence is in all of the stories I have so far read, a cruel murder and the worship of the dead, hate of parents, a talking hyena and a very strange fly are just a few of the delights of her story.

As the story opens the narrator has now walked past the window of a mansion seven times. A very tall thin woman is always standing behind the window, never moving. As the narrator approached the door, it opened.  The lady in the window is ten feet tall, at least.  She does not turn to look at her visitor who struggles to find a conversational entrance:

"Senora, do you like poetry?"

No, I detest poetry

Perhaps you might like a cup tea?

I don't drink.  I don't eat.  I do that to protest against my father, the goat".

The tall girl, her name is Lucretia, she is sixteen, takes the girl to her toy room.  She loves her wooden horse.  Her pet raven Matilda, whose tongue she split ten years ago, flies into the room.  An old servant woman lurking in the background tells Lucretia she must report her activities to her father, whom Lucretia hates and fears.

Ravens, Matilda, wooden horses, oval shaped dishes, giant girls, the number seven all do have occult meanings.

The father inflicts a cruel punishment on Lucretia.

Mel u


Buried In Print said...

A strange fly. Now there's a phrase which seems to beg for a reading project.

Mel u said...

Buried in Print. I am intending a Leonora Carrington project.