The Debutante (2 pages):
A Surrealist short-story
Listen to the story (a 5-min intro on the author, and then the story).
Here is the text of the 5-minute intro by michelle before reading "The Debutante" (TP Podcast):
Today I’m going to read one of Leonora Carrington’s short stories, “The Debutante”. Please, listen as if it were a dream. Don’t get in the rational mood to listen, because Surrealist literature needs the kind of approach we have with poems – we just let go, let words take us wherever! Visualize the story – Leonora Carrington was actually a painter!
Leonora Carrington was born in England, in the UK, in 1917. Her parents were English textile tycoons and very strict Catholics. Leonora Carrington would lead a very different life and personal development – she became a Surrealist artist and a Mexican citizen.
When she was 18 and just before leaving England for good, she had to be a debutante -- she had to go to Buckingham Palace for her public presentation to society. She didn’t like it one bit!, so she wrote this short story I’m about to read. Apart from helping us learn about the world and develop our passions, Art helps us to digest those things which hurt us.
Carrington met the Surrealist artist Max Ernst at that time. He was in London exhibiting his paintings and she was there studying Art. They fell in love and eloped -- he portrayed her in Bride of the Wind. They lived together in Paris, with other artists, and talked lots about art and life, and Hitler’s threat on freedom. With the outbreak of the Second World War, Max Ernst was put in a concentration camp. Leonora Carrington tried to get his freedom, but she had to escape south herself! Just imagine… In that time she had several mental breakdowns. She was put in an institution (a mental hospital) and given those hard drugs women patients got then when doctors diagnosed them with “hysteria”. After one breakdown, in a hospital in Santader (read her story “Down Below”), Carrington escaped, rushed to the Mexican Embassy and married a friend of hers who was a diplomat there. They moved to Mexico and eventually separated – later, she married a Hungarian photographer.
One of her best friends was the Surrealist painter Remedios Varo (1908–1963). Their paintings are sometimes mixed up in books! Varo and Carrington got a kick out of the occult. This is not what I love from Leonora Carrington, though. I love her freedom as an artist. I can feel it in every word she writes! I love her use of animals in the stories. The hyena, for instance, an animal that appears in The Debutante, stands for her sexual self. The horse, another of her favorites, represents her spiritual self. I love her approach to life and art. She says that she paints/writes because she enjoys it (doing it well or badly is irrelevant, really!). Something else she says is this – “If young people tell me I'm young at heart, I take offence -- I'm OLD at heart.” I know what she means, I think. Growing older is good for people who love freedom, because you need many years to learn to be free…
Leonora Carrington has written tons of articles, novels, essays, and poems, in Spanish, English and French! She has also produced thousands of paintings, sculptures, collages, and a number of tapestries.
Here’s the link to a Self-Portrait she’s got in the Met (NYC, the USA). As you can see it’s got a hyena and two horses!
And now, for the story. Enjoy it!