Surrealpolitik: The Hearing Trumpet

Author: Leonora Carrington

New York: Penguin Books (2005, first published in 1974)

Quick Summary

A delirious and hilarious story about a 92-year-old woman consigned to a home for senile old ladies, which eventually spirals into a far more extravagant tale of "how the Goddess reclaimed her Holy Cup with an army of beers, wolves, six old women, a postman, a Chinaman, a poet, an atom-driven ark, and a werewoman" -- and also of how an old woman failed to get to Lapland, but induced Lapland to come to her. It includes passages that adopt a surrealist mode to suggest the experience of senility (memories and imagination mingling with the present moment), as well as absurd character names, tunnels, conspiracies, reasonableness-as-insanity, and -- like Master and Margarita -- a kind of parallel back story of religious intrigue and hypocrisy. With reference to its surreality, at first it could be said that the descriptions of senility were not surreal since their surreality could be explained by the senility; but later in a sort of perfect irony the wild extravagances of amazing occurrences are saved from being mere fantasy, pulled into the surreal by the uncertainties of said senility. A startling and lovely book.


There are 14 quotes currently associated with this book.

Recently I do not go in for much coherent thought, however on that occasion I actually made a plan of action. (page 9)
Tags: [Rationality, Literary/Poetic]
Policemen are not human beings so how can police dogs be animals? (page 14)
Tags: [Fascism, Literary/Poetic]
Force of habit rather than my own capacity carried me home and sat me down in the back yard. Strangely enough I was in England and it was a Sunday afternoon. I was sitting with a book on a stone seat under a lilac bush. Close by a clump of rosemary saturated the air with perfume. They were playing tennis nearby, the clump clump of the rackets and balls was quite audible. This was the sunken Dutch garden, why Dutch I wonder? The roses? the geometrical flower beds? or perhaps because it is sunken? The church bells ringing, that is the Protestant church, have we had tea yet? (cucumber sandwiches, seed cake and rock buns) Yes, tea must be over...

I am not really here in England in this scented garden although it does not disappear as it nearly always does, I am inventing all this and it is about to disappear, but it does not. (page 15)
Tags: [Surrealism, Literary/Poetic]
My long dark hair is soft like cat's fur, I am beautiful. This is quite a shock because I have just realised that I am beautiful and there is something that I must do about it, but what? Beauty is a responsibility like anything else, beautiful women have special lives like prime ministers but that is not what I really want, there must be something else... (page 15)
Tags: [Surrealism, Simulacra/Illusion, Literary/Poetic]
You may not believe in magic but something very strange is happening at this very moment. (page 17)
Tags: [Surrealism, Literary/Poetic]
Sleeping and waking are not quite as distinctive as they used to be, I often mix them up. My memory is full of all sorts of stuff which is not, perhaps, in chronological order, but there is a lot of it. So I pride myself on having an excellent faculty of miscellaneous recall. (page 23)
Tags: [Surrealism, Literary/Poetic, Dreams]
I have always refused to give up that wonderful strange power I have inside me and it becomes manifested when I am in harmonious communication with some other inspired being like myself. (page 26)
Tags: [Surrealism, Literary/Poetic]
All this may have been a collective hallucination although nobody has yet explained to me what a collective hallucination actually means. The monstrous Queen Bee slowly revolved over the water, beating her crystalline wings so rapidly that they emitted a pale light. As she faced me I was thrilled to notice a sudden strange resemblance to the Abbess. At that moment she closed one eye, as big as a tea cup, in a prodigious wink. (page 117)
Tags: [Surrealism, Hallucinogens, Literary/Poetic, Dreams]
"It is impossible to understand how millions and millions of people all obey a sickly collection of gentlemen that call themselves 'Government!' The word, I expect, frightens people. It is a form of planetary hypnosis, and very unhealthy." (page 126)
Tags: [Humor, Carnival, Everyday Life, Literary/Poetic]
"Men are very difficult to understand," said Carmella. "Let's hope they all freeze to death. I am sure it would be very pleasant and healthy for human beings to have no authority whatever. They would have to think for themselves, instead of always being told what to do and think by advertisements, cinemas, policemen and parliaments." (page 126)
Tags: [Politics & Novels, Humor, Everyday Life, Literary/Poetic]
As I drew near the fire the woman stopped stirring the pot and rose to greet me. When we faced each other I felt my heart give a convulsive leap and stop. The woman who stood before me was myself...

"[W]ould you like me to decide which of us is I?" she asked...

She nodded gravely and pointed into the soup with the long wooden spoon. "Jump into the broth, meat is scarce this season."

I watched in horrified silence...I tried to nod and move away at the same time, but my knees were trembling so much that instead of going towards the staircase I shuffled crabwise nearer and nearer the pot. When I was well within range she suddenly jabbed the pointed knife into my back side and with a scream of pain I leapt right into the boiling soup and stiffened in moment of intense agony with my companions in distress, one carrot and two onions.

A might rumbling followed by crashes and there I was standing outside the pot stirring the soup in which I could see my own meat, feet up, boiling away merrily as any joint of beef. I added a pinch of salt... (page 137-138)
Tags: [Truth & Real, The Other, Simulacra/Illusion, Literary/Poetic]
From ancient times the witches had danced in the cavern through wars and persecutions; many a time when I was pursued I would hide with the witches, and was always received with courtesy and kindness. As you are no doubt aware, my mission through the ages has been to carry uncensored news to the people, without consideration of either rank or status. This has made me unpopular with the authorities all over this planet. My object is to help human beings to realize their state of slavery and exploitation by power-seeking beings. (page 145)
Tags: [Surrealism, Politics & Novels, Activism, Surrealism & Politics, Conspiracy, Media, Literary/Poetic, Dreams]
Anubeth growled and reached up to get a very strange animal from the ceiling for my inspection. It was a tortoise with a baby's wizened face and long thin legs which were frozen in a gallop. "Anubeth says that this kind of collage she made for fun when the keeper of the principal morgues in Venice gave her the present of a dead baby. The legs originally belonged to some storks that died of the cold. It really is very clever. I sometimes wonder if she ought to paint. I am sure she has talent." (page 152)
Tags: [Surrealism, Literary/Poetic, Dreams]
For various reasons I have never told you my entire family history, as I was sworn to secrecy during the Communist persecution of Hungary. Now, sadly enough, the only remaining members of our family are Anubeth and myself. As I suggested before, I had a somewhat tense relationship with my other sisters, Audrey, Anastasia and Annabelle. They all suffered from a common mania, namely that when I crossed half the world to visit them in their respective castles, that my journeys were made with the object of stealing an early model vacuum cleaner which they were in the habit of hiring to each other at exorbitant prices. They all perished during the cataclysm. Audrey was found congealed upside-down in a small iceberg that invaded her bedroom. She was still holding an empty bottle of champagne to her lips. Very tragic, but not altogether without poetic justice. (page 153)
Tags: [Surrealism, Literary/Poetic]