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‘Are we to be contented with dreams?’ Getting older in the work of Leonora Carrington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Romance Studies
Issue number3
Early online date22 Dec 2017
Accepted/In press20 Sep 2017
E-pub ahead of print22 Dec 2017
PublishedDec 2017


King's Authors


In The Hearing Trumpet (1976) by Leonora Carrington (1917–2011), a British-born surrealist writer and artist who fled to Mexico during the Second World War, an elderly grandmother is dispatched to an institute for senile old women, where she embarks on a fantastical journey with the other residents. Rather than the last stop before the final place of rest, the residential home, and by extension the narrative, become the site of adventure and opportunity where the limitations of old age are cast off. In her writing and artwork, especially work completed in her later years, Carrington pursues her interest in ageing through the figure of the old woman. In this article I examine why Carrington found the ageing process to offer creative possibilities. I consider how ageing is also implicated in feminist rereadings of her novel and art, and why the old woman might make a new, singular contribution to surrealist avant-garde expression.

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