Unica Zürn was a member of the Surrealist Movement. She was an artist and a writer.
Unica is most remembered for her anagram poetry, her very weird artwork, and her photograph collaboration with Hans Bellmer.
I would have to say that from what all I have read, the majority of her books are littered with autobiographical material.
Her writing is twisted and grotesque, requiring a great deal of prior knowledge of her life and affairs in order to properly understand. But, to be fair I have only had the opportunity to read Trumpets of Jericho so this statement may not be all inclusive in its breadth.
I don’t know what it was about the Surrealist Movement but it seemed so anti-life or perhaps it was life on steroids, of which I haven’t made up my mind on. Either way, pro or not, the extremes of its thought seemly destroyed lives. It surely destroyed Unica’s life, with her being in and out of psychiatric hospitals for the rest of her life.
In 1970 after Hans Bellmer told her he could no longer be responsible for her, she then proceeded to commit suicide by jumping out of the balcony of their apartment. Truly a sad and tortured life she led.
She authored six works of which four of them have been translated into English.
Dark Spring: By Unica Zürn (Exact Change) (1967) My review of this work can be found here.
The Trumpets of Jericho (1968) My review of this work can be found here.
The Man of Jasmine/& Other Texts (1971) Only available on the second hand market unfortunately and quite expensive.
The House of Illnesses (1986) Also only available second market and expensive.
It is unfortunate that the later two works haven’t been reissued lately, nor her earlier works available translated. Perhaps in the coming years this will be rectified.
I had a conversation with the publisher Atlas Press and it would seem that they have on the list to be brought back into print The Man Of Jasmine and possibly The House of Illnesses as well around October of 2019!! So this is good news for those who would like to read these two books but are hesitant on spending an arm and a leg to do so.
I have also had the opportunity to finally read Dark Spring as well. My review can be seen here. I think my initial assessment of her works still stands though I might add erotic in some strange ways.
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