Description or summary of the book: A stunning work of memoir and an unforgettable depiction of the brilliance and madness by one of Surrealism's most compelling figures In 1937 Leonora Carrington-later to become one of the twentieth century's great painters of the weird, the alarming, and the wild-was a nineteen-year-old art student in London, beautiful and unapologetically rebellious. At a dinner party, she met the artist Max Ernst. The two fell in love and soon departed to live and paint together in a farmhouse in Provence. In 1940, the invading German army arrested Ernst and sent him to a concentration camp. Carrington suffered a psychotic break. She wept for hours. Her stomach became 'the mirror of the earth'-of all worlds in a hostile universe-and she tried to purify the evil by compulsively vomiting. As the Germans neared the south of France, a friend persuaded Carrington to flee to Spain. Facing the approach 'of robots, of thoughtless, fleshless beings,' she packed a suitcase that bore on a brass plate the word Revelation. This was only the beginning of a journey into madness that was to end with Carrington confined in a mental institution, overwhelmed not only by her own terrible imaginings but by her doctor's sadistic course of treatment. In Down Below she describes her ordeal-in which the agonizing and the marvelous were equally combined-with a startling, almost impersonal precision and without a trace of self-pity. Like Daniel Paul Schreber's Memoirs of My Nervous Illness, Down Below brings the hallucinatory logic of madness home.
Estimated reading time (average reader): 5H23M12S
Other categories, genre or collection: Biography: General, Styles: Surrealism & Dada, Biography: Arts & Entertainment, Memoirs, Autobiography: Arts & Entertainment, Autobiography: Literary
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