A Surrealist Homecoming: An Investigation of Corporeal Metamorphosis in Leonora Carrington's Down Below
MetadataShow full item record
During the 1920s, war, political flux, and social revolution ravaged Western Europe as xenophobic and violent rhetoric fueled political ambitions. Starting with the 1924 Surrealist Manifesto written by French author André Breton, surrealism championed anti-colonialism and anti-colorism while elevating madness as transcendent moments of creative innovation. In the subtle transition from the “sex object” to the “surrealist object,” women were idealized as the femme-enfant (i.e., the irrational and innocent “woman-child”). Down Below takes place in this context. In this 70-page memoir, surrealist artist Leonora Carrington details her experiences in a Spanish asylum in 1940. In my thesis, I will explore the three types of corporeal transformation the narrator undergoes in the memoir: bestial, material, and spiritual. By drawing on the perverse and inextricable link between the body and mind, Carrington tactfully reclaims women’s significance in the universal amphitheater while tackling larger themes such as political violence, mental illness, and the gendered unconsciousness.