Down Below is a stunning work of memoir that gives readers a look into the mind of one of Surrealism's most compelling figures and an unforgettable depiction of brilliance and madness. Includes black and white photographs of Carrington with family and friends.
Leonora Carrington (1917-2011) was born in England and spent most of her adult life in Mexico City, where she participated in the Surrealist movement as an artist, painter, and novelist. Marina Warner's studies of religion, mythology, and fairy tales include Once Upon a Time: A Short History of Fairy Tale. A Fellow of the British Academy, she is also a professor in the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies at the University of Essex.
"In her centenary year, Carrington is undergoing a revival...Down Below is both a recollection of madness and a kind of transcription. Though Carrington completed it after the fact, her memoir hews closely to her thoughts and feelings as they were then." --Anwen Crawford, The New Yorker
"So vivid is Carrington's step-by-step descent into madness...it is possible to read Down Below in a single sitting, but emotionally quite difficult... [You] get the distinct impression that for Carrington, reality is malleable." --Carmen Maria Machado, NPR
"Down Below recounts Carrington's incarceration in a Spanish asylum and her daring escape in a tone so cool that even the most harrowing details have a delayed effect on the reader, like the timed release of a potent drug. Her use of language is as precise as an artist's choice of line or color, which helps her express the inexpressible." --Carol Cooper, The Village Voice
"[B]rief and unflinchingly honest...a candid, painful, and personal account of someone's darkest hours...In a very helpful introduction to the book, novelist Marina Warner writes that Carrington was persuaded to write the memoir by surrealism's literary founder, Andr Breton, who viewed her genuine, unaffected descent into true madness as surrealism at its most pure. As such, it seems a case can be made that this little book is indeed the gold standard of surrealist literature." --Publishers Weekly
"Down Below is not only a radical reworking of the Surrealist narrative of female madness: it is a sophisticated experiment with reason, subjectivity and the narrative voice, in which Carrington is able to speak clearly of madness from the outside, to speak clearly of what is within it, of its ins and outs, without committing wholly to memoir or to art." --Joanna Walsh, Verso Books (blog)
"Her stories are vivid, funny and surprisingly fresh...[they]
combine satire with surrealist situations to deftly mock the
pomposity of organized religion, sexual repression or the endless
forms of bureaucratic hypocrisy and ineptitude... She controls her
imagery, amuses us with her tweaking of the bourgeoisie and moves
us with her dazzling dreamscapes, all the while firmly maintaining
her slightly bemused sang-froid." --Richard Burgin, The New York
"While other Surrealists played at madness, she was intimate with it." --Peter Campbell, London Review of Books