Surrealist women's writing

A critical exploration

Edited by Anna Watz

Surrealist women's writing


  • Hardcover
  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-6715-6
  • Pages: 264
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £14.99
  • Published Date: October 2022
  • BIC Category: Literature, Literary studies: from c 2000, LITERARY CRITICISM / Modern / 20th Century, LITERARY CRITICISM / Women Authors, LITERARY CRITICISM / General, The arts / Art & design styles: Surrealism & Dada, Literature & literary studies / General, Literature & literary studies / Literature: history & criticism, Literature & literary studies / Literary studies: from c 1900 -
  • Series: Manchester University Press


Surrealist women's writing: A critical exploration is the first sustained critical inquiry into the writing of women associated with surrealism. Featuring original essays by leading scholars of surrealism, the volume demonstrates the extent and the historical, linguistic, and culturally contextual breadth of this writing. It also highlights how the specifically surrealist poetics and politics of these writers' work intersect with and contribute to contemporary debates on, for example, gender, sexuality, subjectivity, otherness, anthropocentrism, and the environment.

Drawing on a variety of innovative theoretical approaches, the essays in the volume focus on the writing of numerous women surrealists, many of whom have hitherto mainly been known for their visual rather than their literary production. These include Claude Cahun, Leonora Carrington, Kay Sage, Colette Peignot, Suzanne Césaire, Unica Zürn, Ithell Colquhoun, Leonor Fini, Dorothea Tanning, and Rikki Ducornet.


'This book does not attempt to impose a harmonious, all-encompassing feminist perspective that would gloss over the complexities of being a 'woman writer' within the grand scheme of surrealism, but looks, rather, to highlight differences and ambivalences, enriching the discourse surrounding this literature. An enthralling and intensely intellectual investigation into surrealist women's writing, this study is of critical importance for literary scholars and admirers of surrealism as it offers a profound reconsideration of these ten authors.'
French Studies

'The 11 essays in the collection look at the work of Claude Cahun, Lenora Carrington, Ithell Colquhoun, Colette Peignot, Kay Sage, and Unica Zürn, among others. Beyond examining the women's literary work, the essays show how these writers' work informs contemporary discussion of gender, sexuality, ecocriticism, the Other, and the Anthropocene. Wetz's excellent introduction frames the questions and concerns surrealist women writers explored in their work.'
(Reprinted with permission from Choice Reviews. All rights reserved. Copyright by the American Library Association.)


Anna Watz
1 'The dung beetle's snowball': the philosophic narcissism of Claude Cahun's essay-poetry
Felicity Gee
2 Identity convulsed: Leonora Carrington's The House of Fear and The Oval Lady
Anna Watz
3 Recasting the human: Leonora Carrington's dark exilic imagination
Jeannette Baxter
4 Colette Peignot: the purity of revolt
Michael Richardson
5 Suzanne Césaire's surrealism: tightrope of hope
Kara M. Rabbitt
6 Kay Sage alive in the world
Katharine Conley
7 Outside-in: translating Unica Zürn
Patricia Allmer
8 Ithell Colquhoun's experimental poetry: surrealism, occultism, and postwar poetry
Mark S. Morrisson
9 Leonor Fini's abhuman family
Jonathan P. Eburne
10 'Open sesame': Dorothea Tanning's critical writing
Catriona McAra
11 Magic language, esoteric nature: Rikki Ducornet's surrealist ecology
Kristoffer Noheden


Anna Watz is Senior Lecturer in English at Linköping University, Sweden

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