It is hard to say exactly what I feel about this book by Unica Zürn. It’s a coming of age, and a highly erotic type of book.
From the beginning there is a fascination with the male. Primarily focused on the father until replaced later by another man.
I found the sections describing her and her friends exploration of their sexuality very interesting. I can remember what it was like in my own time so to read what it was like in hers just made me laugh.
The one odd experience she described was the encounter with the dog and how she incorporated it into her visualizations before she slept. Pretty strange, but it does make you think how common it might of been, even in our day and time.
I think the most tragic thing that happened was the rape by her sixteen year old brother. Although I am not positive I believe that this is autobiographical.
One other scene which she writes about made me think about her pictures she did with Hans Bellmer. In those pictures she looked to be painfully tied up and she describes a story with her classmates after they do that to her as well. She states how much pleasure she derived from it especially when she struggled to get out of the bonds and they tightened on her.
Later in the story she relates a tale about a man on a bicycle who has his prick hanging out. Her and her friend are fascinated and horrified. The man invites her and her girlfriend to touch it but they run away. The thoughts going through my mind were how we have always been very messed up people. The stuff we here about today has always been going on it is just now that we are bombarded with stories of our deviant behaviors more now than then.
The latter part of the book details her “greatest love” after her father. A love where there is nothing physical, just her in her observation of him and her in her solitude from others to live in her fantasy.
She writes “Worshiping someone requires complete passivity. To turn the principle of immobility into a rule.” After reading this a second time I am struck at the truth of it. Those who write fiction, or poetry, who focus, literally worship, an ideal or person can truly understand this. The fantasy is so much greater than the reality which she also states earlier in the story when describing her little love affair with Eckbert.
After her visitation with her love while he is sick and missing from the pool, she states she can die in peace to him. When you consider these words are coming out of a twelve year old mouth it is more shocking.
After her trip home she is confronted by her mother about her absence and her brother relates to the mother her obsession with the man at the pool. Forthwith she is banned from going to the pool again and is sent to her room.
While here she dwells on her inability to see him again and she is resolved with death. She determines she will jump from her window.
It is sad that in the midst of this she concludes that everybody has probably considered their death at one point or another, and there is truly no happy people in the world. From there she also ponders how many people are standing at their window contemplating the same thing as she. Such deepness of thought and clarity being put into the mind of this little girl to me increases the sadness of it all as well as the horror. I can understand the mind of the author so well having been there myself.
The ending, so terrible, as she jumps and breaks her neck on impact. She lies there on the ground contorted. The dog comes up to her, puts its head between her legs and licks her like he used to do and when she doesn’t react he lies down and whimpers beside her. So she dies for love.
Dark Spring: By Unica Zürn (Exact Change) is a deeply tragic and haunting story replete with autobiographical information about the author. When I read it the first time I was wowed, and determined that I should read it again, which I did. It is not a long story but it is curt and to the point needing nothing beyond what was put on paper. I would highly recommend it to anybody who is interested in the author, Surrealist movement, or period of time in general.