9 September 2015

Surrealism’s Curiosity: Lewis Carroll and the Femme-Enfant by Catriona McAra

Dorothea Tanning


This paper concerns surrealist artists‟ and writers‟ appropriation of Lewis Carroll. Predominantly focusing on the work of Dorothea Tanning and Max Ernst, it suggests that Carroll‟s work appealed to the surrealists‟ fascination with their childhood selves, and their wish to identify with the curious character of Alice as femme-enfant as a way of subverting their bourgeois family backgrounds. Whether stepping Through the Looking Glass or breaking the rules in Wonderland, Alice can be read as a transgressive character apt for surrealist appropriation. The paper traces Carroll‟s reception in the surrealist movement, and articulates the curious character of the surrealist femme- enfant in order to reinscribe her epistemophilia in line with surrealism‟s orientation towards research."

Catriona McAra

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Fig.1: John Tenniel. 
You‟re nothing but a pack of cards‟ in „Alice‟s Evidence,‟ Illustration for Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Macmillan and Co. London, 1865.

Fig.2: Max Ernst. 

you won‟t be poor anymore, head-shaven pigeons, under my white dress, in my columbarium. I‟ll bring you a dozen tons of sugar. But don‟t you touch my hair!‟ 1930, collage in Rêve d’une Petite Fille Qui Voulut Entrer au Carmel (The Little Girl Dreams of Taking the Veil), translated by Dorothea Tanning. George Braziller, New York, 1984, 81. © ADAGP, Paris and DACS. London 2009.

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“Always in search of curious objects, broken toys, bits of things and traces of stories, Adriana Peliano stitches together desires, monsters and fairy tales. Her collages and metamorphic assemblages are magical and multiple inventories, where logic is reinvented with new meanings and narratives, creating language games and dream labyrinths. Everything is transformed to tell new stories that dislocate our way of seeing, inviting the marvellous to visit our world.” “Sempre em busca de objetos curiosos, restos de brinquedos, cacos de mundos e rastros de estórias, Adriana Peliano costura desejos, monstros e contos de fadas. Suas colagens, metamofoses e assemblagens despertam inventários mágicos e múltiplos, onde a lógica do cotidiano é reinventada em novos sentidos e narrativas, criando jogos de linguagem e labirintos de sonhos. Tudo se transforma para contar novas estórias, abrindo portas para o maravilhoso.”