Identity convulsed
Leonora Carrington’s The House of Fear and The Oval Lady
in Surrealist women’s writing
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This chapter reads Leonora Carrington’s French short stories published in the volumes The House of Fear (1938) and The Oval Lady (1939) as an active engagement with surrealist theories of collage and subjectivity, as they were articulated by André Breton and Max Ernst. The chapter argues that whilst Carrington’s stories participate in surrealist experiments with ‘convulsive identity’, they simultaneously express an ambivalence about the effects for women of the surrealist exaltation of passivity, irrational abandon, and non-agency. Ultimately, the chapter suggests, Carrington’s engagement with and extension of the theories and practices of Breton and Ernst demonstrate that surrealist theory is not a ‘male project’, as has sometimes been argued; moreover, it proposes that such theory includes implicitly feminist elements.

Surrealist women’s writing

A critical exploration

Editor: Anna Watz

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