112th: Surrealism with Margaret Carson and Mary Ann Caws
Join us Tuesday, November 27th, at 7pm at Book Culture to celebrate the newly translated Letters, Dreams, and Other Writings by the Spanish Surrealist Remedios Varo. This will be a conversation with Margaret Carson, the translator, and Mary Ann Caws, editor of the new collection, The Milk Bowl of Feathers: Essential Surrealist Writings.
about Letters, Dreams, and Other Writings:
While the reputation of Remedios Varo (1908-63) the surrealist painter is now well established, Remedios Varo the writer has yet to be fully discovered. Her writings, which were never published during her life let alone translated into English, present something of a missing chapter and offer the same qualities to be found in her visual work: an engagement with mysticism and magic, a breakdown of the border between the everyday and the marvelous, a love of mischief and an ongoing meditation on the need for (and the trauma of) escape in all its forms.
This volume brings together the painter's collected writings and includes an unpublished interview, letters to friends and acquaintances (as well as to people unknown), dream accounts, notes for unrealized projects, a project for a theater piece, whimsical recipes for controlled dreaming, exercises in surrealist automatic writing and prose poem commentaries on her paintings. It also includes her longest manuscript, the pseudoscientific, De Homo Rodans, an absurdist study of the wheeled predecessor to Homo sapiens (the skeleton of which Varo had built out of chicken bones). Ostensibly written by the invented anthropologist H likcio von Fuhr ngschmidt, Varo's text utilizes eccentric Latin and a tongue-in-cheek pompous discourse to explain the origins of the first umbrella and in what ways Myths are merely corrupted Myrtles.
about The Milk Bowl of Feathers: Essential Surrealist Writings:
Originating in 1916 with the avant-garde Dada movement at the famous Caf Voltaire in Zurich, surrealism aimed to unleash the powers of the creative act without thinking. Max Ernst, Andr Breton, Tristan Tzara, Paul luard, Philippe Soupault, and Louis Aragon created a movement that spread wildly to all corners of the globe, inspiring not only poetry but also artists like Joan Miro and Ren Magritte and cinematic works by Antonin Artaud, Luis Bunuel, and Salvador Dal . As the editor, Mary Ann Caws, says, "Essential to surrealist behavior is a constant state of openness, of readiness for whatever occurs, whatever marvelous object we might come across, manifesting itself against the already thought, the already lived."
Here are the gems of this major, mind-bending aesthetic, political, and humane movement: writers as diverse as Aragon, Breton, Dal , Ren Char, Robert Desnos, Mina Loy, Paul Magritte, Alice Paalen, Gisele Prassinos, Man Ray, Kay Sage, and Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven are included here, providing a grand picture of this revolutionary movement that shocked the world.
Margaret Carson’s translation of Letters, Dreams, and Other Writings by the Spanish Surrealist Remedios Varo will be out in November from Wakefield Press. Other translations include Sergio Chejfec’s My Two Worlds and Baroni, a Journey and José Tomás de Cuéllar's The Magic Lantern. She teaches in the Modern Languages Department at Borough of Manhattan Community College/CUNY.
Mary Ann Caws is Distinguished Professor Emerita of Comparative Literature, English, and French and Resident Professor at the Graduate School of the City University of New York. Professor Caws was co-Director of the Henri Peyre French Institute from 1980 to 2002, and a former Trustee of the Alliance Française (Washington, D.C.). She is an Officier of the Palmes Académiques (awarded by the French Minister of Education), a Chevalier dans l'ordre des Arts et des Lettres (awarded by the French Government), recipient of Guggenheim, Rockefeller, and Getty fellowships, and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Science. Professor Caws is the author of The Eye in the Text; Reading Frames in Modern Fiction; The Inner Theatre of Recent French Poetry; The Modern Art Cookbook, among others, and of critical biographies of Virginia Woolf, Henry James, Marcel Proust, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Blaise Pascal: Miracles and Reason, and The Life and Work of Dora Maar. She is the editor of The Harper Collins World Reader; Textual Analysis; The Yale Anthology of Twentieth-Century French Poetry, Surrealism; The Surrealist Painters and Poets; and Surrealist Love Poetry. She has translated Tristan Tzara’s Approximate Man and Other Writings; André Breton’s Mad Love; Jacques Derrida and Paule Thévenin’s The Secret Art of Antonin Artaud; and Ostinato by Louis-René des Forêts. She is the co-translator and editor of Selected Poems and Prose of Stéphane Mallarmé; Mallarmé in Prose; The Essential Poems and Texts of Robert Desnos, Poems of André Breton, Paul Eluard, Capital of Pain, René Char: Furor and Mystery and Other Texts, Pierre Reverdy. Forthcoming: Creative Gatherings: Meetingplaces of Modernism, and “Losing Nothing: Arakawa and Madeline Gins,” Gagosian Quarterly, September, 2018.