Read The Hearing Trumpet by Leonora Carrington Ali Smith Online


One of the first things ninety-two-year-old Marian Leatherby overhears when she is given an ornate hearing trumpet is her family plotting to commit her to an institution. Soon, she finds herself trapped inside a sinister retirement home, where the elderly must inhabit buildings shaped like igloos, endure twisted religious preaching and eat in a canteen overlooked by the myOne of the first things ninety-two-year-old Marian Leatherby overhears when she is given an ornate hearing trumpet is her family plotting to commit her to an institution. Soon, she finds herself trapped inside a sinister retirement home, where the elderly must inhabit buildings shaped like igloos, endure twisted religious preaching and eat in a canteen overlooked by the mysterious portrait of a leering Abbess. But when another resident secretly hands Marian a book recounting the life of the Abbess, a joyous and brilliant surreal adventure begins to unfold. Written in the early 1960s, The Hearing Trumpet remains one of the most original and inspirational of all fantastic novels....

Title : The Hearing Trumpet
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780141187990
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 158 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Hearing Trumpet Reviews

  • Nate D
    2019-04-09 00:59

    Leonora Carrington died only a month and a half ago at the age of 94, a surrealist and remarkable traveler across the 20th century. Though I only heard about her through a post on the Writers No One Reads tumblr, it seems that she was far from unknown. Here is her epitaph in the Telegraph:Born in Britain, she eloped with Max Ernst, hung out with Picasso and Dali, fled the Nazis, escaped from a Spanish psychiatric hospital and later settled in Mexico, where she built a reputation as one of the most original and visionary British artists and writers of the 20th century.And here she is, in 2007:At the time, she was a couple months from turning 92, the age of Marion Leatherby, the protagonist of The Hearing Trumpet. Though published in 1976 when she was 59, Carrington chose an alter-ego a generation older, a plucky nonagenarian who wants only to retire to Lapland amongst snow and sled dogs, but instead is shipped off to a cultish rest home by a family impatient to have her out of the way at minimal cost, only to become embroiled in unexpected plots.The book opens with brisk humor in generally everyday setting, but soon unexpected intrigue sets in without warning, the reader is sent off on a long (and fascinating) digression about 18th century feminist cults, and then immediately carried off on into a most exciting and indescribable adventure story at whiplash-inducing pace, dense with mythology and strangeness. This can all seem a little erratic, perhaps, but is perhaps apt to an aging but sprightly mind that still hopes to see Lapland. It's all terribly entertaining, our protagonists are remarkably engaging, considering, and there seems to be quite a bit of social observation strung throughout -- played mostly for humor, but there nonetheless. On the whole, a very weird, very enjoyable bit of storytelling. It could have been drawn out to twice this length and I would have had no objections.Thanks, Leonora, and rest in peace.

  • Zanna
    2019-03-26 02:49

    Ali Smith's introduction to this edition very effectively renders any comment from me superfluous, since Smith seems to be coming from a perspective by my side and is much more eloquent and insightful than I could hope to be. As she points out, Carrington's vision of nuclear winter is entirely swap-outable for the in-progress fossil-fuel-induced climate catastrophe. Her comments on feminist themes in the book, including attitudes towards older women, were similarly on point. My urging fellow youngish whitefolks to value and respect the genius and (often subjugated) knowledge of elders will be less helpful than urging them to read this book. Read it!If at times I felt the splendidly unconventional narrative, a spectacular hybrid of fairytale quest, apocalyptic mysticism-themed mystery (kind of a la Umberto Eco), and satirical fable, made no sense, I also felt that this was intentional, although occasionally I had a feeling that some privately intelligible symbolism was at work in collaboration with my own expansive ignorance. According to some participants in this discussion, all sorts of interesting things are going on structually and thematically that I only caught snatches of. Nonetheless, I had a feeling of bracing refreshment, as if the rug I was sitting on with my book and blanket had suddenly decided to fly out of the window and give me a tour of an enchanted land.There are some issues. The 'Negress' Christabel Burns has an impressive role, revealing secret and spiritual knowledge. This inevitably reminded me of the Hollywood 'magic Negro' trope, since she seems to have no back story and unlike the other characters, no vulnerabilities, preferences or emotional ties. I was distressed by the narrative's victimisation of a trans woman and her misgendering, although I noticed that the deadnaming applied to her was partially reversed, hinting at a trajectory towards trans acceptance (I have to hope so anyway, since the 70s was a pretty dodgy decade for cis feminist attitudes to trans* issues)I found this an easy read despite the ornate language and elaborate, frenetic creativity especially on the part of Marian's friend Carmella. It's really delightful to read something that so joyously and hilariously challenges attitudes to mental health. Carrington here makes unmistakable what is so often misunderstood in surrealism: the stimulus to see, hear, feel, more clearly and more deeply, to see beyond the myths and other illusions of conventional socialisation and the deadening of the senses enforced by a narrowed and narrowing culture, by recognising the absurdity, the surreality of what goes on in our lives every day.Oh and I love that Marian doesn't eat meat (and is persecuted for it institutionally) and is friendly with animals. Cat lovers will appreciate this one = )

  • Jack Tripper
    2019-03-22 05:44

    Here's the cover of the 1977 Pocket Books mass-market I'm reading (192 pages). Digging the hell out of it so far. (Full review to come, eventually)

  • Rod
    2019-04-05 06:48

    92-year-old Marian Leatherby is quite content living with her son and his family; she holds no illusions that she is a welcome presence in the home, so she stays out of everyone's way in the hope that they will stay out of hers, a strategy that has always paid off so far. Her hearing is none too good, so she is given a gift of a hearing trumpet by her eccentric, beatific best friend Carmella. With her newly enhanced hearing she is able to overhear that her family plans to ship her off to a home for old women.The old ladies' home is a bizarre affair, run in Draconian fashion by a married couple who belong to a cultish but ostensibly Christian religious sect. The buildings are in odd shapes, such as a big boot, an igloo, a castle tower, an Egyptian sarcophagus...see, I told you it was bizarre. There are all sorts of strange goings-on—occult rituals, a poisoning plot, a murder, a search for the Holy Grail, a devastating cataclysm, some Kabbalistic stuff, Taliessin fits in there somewhere—and there's a female Anubis who is named Anubeth. And much more. Bottom line, this book is absolutely batshit bonkers, and also absolutely delightful, full of humor and absurd lunacy, zipping along on its own internal logic. Note: Coincidentally, I read this immediately after Barbara Comyn's Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead, another delightful novel featuring an elderly woman with an old-fashioned hearing trumpet. Is there an esoteric genre called "hearing trumpet fiction"? If so, I'm open for further recommendations, because so far I'm on a roll.

  • Miriam
    2019-04-05 03:00

    I don't know where to begin describing this. I feel that knowing anything going in might spoil the craziness of this book. It is well-written, imaginative, and about old ladies.

  • knig
    2019-03-27 07:50

    A wonderful beginning quickly plateaued to a cruising altitude of banal and uninspired until the final couple of chapters, when Carrington seemed to shake out of her dithering reverie and started throwing her weight about: but the turgidity of phantasmagorias was simply not enough to save this book from the doldrums.Mirian Leatherby is 92 and a character: the first chapter had me in stitches: between her ‘gallant’ beard, the crazy concoctions she plots with her friend Carmella who steals the French yellow pages and writes letters to random recipients within, as well as plans to defect to Lapland, and even more hilarious, her unwelcome intrusions in her sons parlour where she recites fourteen stories about multicoloured parrots but forgets the ending of a mere six of them, I was constantly in mirth.Too quickly though Marian gets dispatched to a nursing home and things here become beyond tedious. A coterie of utterly uncharming residents, whose (non)idiosyncratic ways are described a tad too loquaciously, charge onto the scene and my eyes glaze over. Not even a rather overlong and mysteriously uninspired soliloquy into the life of an 18c nun can bestir me from apathy. In fact, I’m cringing: its obvious Carrington is giving it all she’s got, trying to be witty, innovative and engaging, but its coming out a dud. A minor murder mystery adds some salt to this bland soupcon, but I’m unmoved.The end part switches gear and now its a magic mystery tour. (I.e. there is a lady with a wolf head who give birth to werelets. Yay). This was mildly enjoyable, even if it came like a curve ball out of nowhere. One minute we’re on solid ground, next minute, cuckoo land. (Mirian had probably had a puff of the weed Carmella smuggled in )Fine, fine, I’m good with that. But, still. Not so much a little too little too late, but rather a little too much not a little too early.

  • Kirsty
    2019-04-01 08:02

    Leonora Carrington's The Hearing Trumpet is as wonderfully odd and obscure as it sounds. The novel is amusing, sometimes startlingly so; it made me laugh aloud in a few places, which very few books manage to do. (I do have a sense of humour. Promise.) Whilst I wasn't at all fond of the religious aspects, I found our protagonist Marian quite a character. She and her best friend Carmella are two great eccentrics, really. One never quite knows what they're going to do next.I would categorise The Hearing Trumpet as falling somewhere between magical realism and utterly fantastical; there are recognisable elements, but it often reads like what I imagine a strong drugs trip might do to one. There were, rather strangely, echoes of Enid Blyton's The Magic Faraway Tree for me here; read it, and you'll understand why. There are also a few harks back to fairytales - ever so strange ones, but fairytales all the same. The Hearing Trumpet is perhaps the epitome of Surrealist literature, and I have never read anything quite like it; the closest I have come to date is probably the work of Scottish author Naomi Mitchison, who is undeservedly neglected. The ending was even stranger than I was expecting, and verged upon the disturbing. My favourite quote from the whole is: 'People under seventy and over seven are very unreliable if they are not cats'.As a final thought, it was a wonderful surprise to discover that the introduction to the volume which I borrowed from the library was written by one of my absolute favourite authors, Ali Smith; her work is, as ever, fantastic, both fascinating and funny, and she set the tone of the whole perfectly.

  • Philip Dodd
    2019-03-23 00:45

    In May, 2015, I went to see an exhibition of the paintings of Leonora Carrington in the Tate gallery, the Albert Dock, Liverpool, my home city. I loved her paintings and the masks she made for a production of The Tempest. I would call her paintings works of spiritual surrealism, which for one bright day in May changed my perception, and made me see there is no divide between what we call the real world and the other world, that of dreams, myth and fancy. We inhabit the real world, but the other world is always there, present, to be detected and explored, if we have a clear vision. As a souvenir of my visit to the exhibition, I bought a copy of her novel, The Hearing Trumpet, and I am glad that I did. For one thing, it is funny. It made me smile, laugh. I thought it was well written and deserved to be published by Penguin as a Modern Classic. What came across most to me is that Leonora Carrington enjoyed writing her book, which is a good thing for a reader to acknowledge. Her book is in a way a celebration of that rare creature, known as the English Eccentric. Such people are rare, of course, by definition, they have to be. Edith Sitwell was such a person, and I would say that Leonora Carrington was, too. In a way, her novel is autobiographical. Written in the first person, her main character, Marian Leatherby, like her, was born in Lancashire, England, and from an early age wanted to be a painter. Hers is a very English book, which I liked. I liked the way the story began with a very ordinary family problem. An old woman, Marian Leatherby, with the aid of the hearing trumpet, given to her by her friend, Carmella, one of the funniest characters in the book, hears her son and his wife, who she lives with, talking about sending her to live in an old people's home. Leonora Carrington does not dwell on the sadness in such a situation, however, rather makes it seem light, comic. Of course, as the novel is written by a woman most famed for her surrealist paintings, it is no ordinary old people's home that Marian Leatherby goes to live in. The ordinary world is then left behind, it seems to me, and Marian steps over the divide into the other world, as the story becomes increasingly surreal, including a very odd history of the fate of the Holy Grail, until it builds up to an Apocalyptic vision, like one of Leonora Carrington's paintings presented in words on the page. All the characters in the book are well drawn and memorable. I found the book a tonic to read. It made me feel warm inside, for it is always funny, optimistic, with no despair or depression, offering hope for the future, revealing the pleasure in being creative in a positive way.

  • Lila
    2019-04-19 05:48

    What a crazy, exhilarating ride the Hearing Trumpet takes you on! It is not craziness just for the sake of being weird, rather an expression of the soul's deep subconscious connection to mankinds collective myths. This novel covers deep subjects like old age, society's dismissive treatment of older women, the patriarchal domination of what were once female dominated rituals and mythology and the destructive consequences of the atom bomb on the environment. The description on Goodreads is actually quite accurate and does not have any spoilers: "The Hearing Trumpet is the story of 92-year-old Marian Leatherby, who is given the gift of a hearing trumpet only to discover that what her family is saying is that she is to be committed to an institution. But this is an institution where the buildings are shaped like birthday cakes and igloos, where the Winking Abbess and the Queen Bee reign, and where the gateway to the underworld is open. It is also the scene of a mysterious murder.Occult twin to Alice in Wonderland"The author Leonora Carrington, passed away in 2011 at the age of 94. British born, she was considered to be the last of the Surrealists painters. Carrington is perhaps best known because of her association with the Surrealist movement in Paris and her relationship with painter Max Ernst. However she was a fabulous painter in her own right, as well author and theatre set designer. Personally I way prefer her art to both Ernst's and Dali's. There is a Facebook page that is worth liking just to be able to see all her beautiful art work: During World war 2 Carrington suffered a breakdown and was institutionalized by her own family. She managed to escape to Mexico in 1942 where she remained the rest of her life. For this reason well as the fact that she'd gone to Catholic boarding schools as a child ( and was kicked out of one of them as a teen!), Carrington had a strong aversion to institutions which is reflected in The Hearing Trumpet.This is one of those rare books where I actually kept putting off reading to the end because I did not want the story to be over!

  • James Barker
    2019-04-12 05:57

    I have been a fan of Leonora Carrington's cabalistic artwork for some time. At last I have managed to read what is considered her finest literary endeavour and I have so much admiration for this beautiful, bonkers book. The 92 year old narrator, Marian Leatherby, is an ingenious creation and the conversations she shares with her best friend Carmella are hilarious, brimming with drama, paranoia and affection. Marian is abandoned by her family in an unorthodox retirement home where the most hypocritical are religious zealots and each inhabitant lives in an unusually shaped villa (a boot, an igloo, a toadstool, etc). There is a book within the book, the story of a leering, levitating abbess who was the original occupier of the home, back in the days when it was full of orgiastic nuns. The novel is full of the things that interested Carrington- arcane mythologies of the world and their accompanying symbolism, animalistic humans and humanistic animals, cataclysmic world events told with a surrealism that is somehow understated. But the most powerful thing for me is the fact that, while to most people a 92-year old woman is fit for nothing and deserves her incarceration, Carrington makes the woman her hero- a forgetful heroine, yes, one who is a little slower to understand, but a heroine none the less.

  • Navera
    2019-04-02 06:48

    Interesting post surrealist novel with heroic elderly women as protagonists. I really enjoyed this book and am on the lookout for more writing in this vein. There are far too few novels written about intrepid and cunning elderly ladies.

  • Bettie☯
    2019-04-07 02:56

    (view spoiler)[Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)]

  • Sean
    2019-03-27 07:44

    People under seventy and over seven are very unreliable if they are not cats.Ninety-two-year-old Marian Leatherby has been unceremoniously parked in a peculiar institution by her spineless son Galahad and domineering daughter-in-law Muriel. Operated by the Well of Light Brotherhood and financed by the Bouncing Breakfast Cereals Co. (possibly a stand-in for Kellogg, whose Seventh-day Adventist founder John Harvey Kellogg was chief medical officer at a sanitarium), the institution more resembles a children's fairytale theme park than a traditional 'rest home' and is led by a self-styled personal improvement guru named Dr. Gambit (Kellogg?) and his wife. Armed with her shiny new hearing trumpet, a gift from her dear friend Carmella, Marian embarks upon her new life at the institution with relative aplomb. As she acquaints herself with her fellow residents, she soon finds herself embroiled in a web of intrigue that will lead all the way to the Holy Grail itself. Characterized by Carrington's trademark irascible humor and dotted with surrealist tableau that could have been pulled directly from her paintings, The Hearing Trumpet is for the most part a rather lighthearted novel, reminiscent of Richard Brautigan's fiction. It would be a good introduction to Leonora Carrington for those unfamiliar with her work, before traveling down some of her darker, odder paths. A nice bonus here is the illustrations throughout the text drawn by Carrington's son Pablo Weisz-Carrington.

  • El
    2019-04-12 02:53

    They say "ignorance is bliss", which seems to be appropriate in this short novel by surrealist artist Leonora Carrington. 92-year-old Marian is gifted a hearing trumpet, only to find out that her son and daughter-in-law are in cahoots in effort to have Marian admitted to a home for old fogies (aka, an institution). It's at the institution where things get wicked crazy and "normalcy" goes completely supernova. Carrington didn't just paint surrealism - she wrote it as well.For being such a short novel, it took me longer to read than I had expected. This is partly due to the fact I'm reading other things on the side; however mostly it's because I wanted to enjoy this. This is the first book by Carrington I've read but it certainly won't be the last. This was fun. It's not a perfect novel, but it's enjoyable - so long as you don't get caught up in the bizarreness of it all.Carrington's life is just as fascinating as her art/writing, and I wonder how much she took from her experience living in an asylum when she wrote this book. Seems fitting in a way, and incredibly sad in another. It's not a sad story to read on its own, but knowing this aspect of her past gave it a sad tone as I read. Or I could just be projecting, whatever.The illustrations within are not Carrington's work, but were done by her son, Pablo Weisz-Carrington. They're certainly fascinating and add something to the text; I am just sad that Carrington hadn't done her own artwork which would have personalized the story even that much more.All in all this was fun; recommended to anyone interested in Leonora Carrington, surrealism, or just some bat-shit-craziness.

  • Margaret
    2019-04-06 03:42

    The Hearing Trumpet is a feminist Holy Grail quest and apocalypse novel from the perspective of a 92-year-old woman—Marian—who is sent against her will to an old person’s facility (which is a sprawling, surrealist Spanish castle). And it’s fantastic, warm, cerebral, hilarious. I can’t remember the last time I laughed out loud while reading, and I did so several times with THT, and read the funniest passages to my SO. I’ve always loved novels with older women as the protagonists, and this one features a whole cast of richly characterized funny old ladies. My favorite is Marian’s best friend—Carmella—who’s fond of helicopters, weapons of all kinds, pseudonymous letter-writing, crosswords, and cats (as she says, “People under seventy and over seven are very unreliable if they are not cats”).

  • Anna
    2019-04-08 06:02

    What a delightful, magical, and unexpectedly apocalyptic tale of a 92 year old woman whose family put her in an old people’s home. Surrealist artist Leonora Carrington’s writing is deft, mysterious, and extremely funny. I was reminded of Lolly Willowes and Two Serious Ladies, in which women considered excess to requirements by their families also rebel against the situation. ‘The Hearing Trumpet’ abounds with beautiful imagery, deadpan humour, and a sense of magical possibility that make it a joy to read. The edition I read also features charmingly unsettling illustrations. The narrator Marian Leatherby is a definite role model. I also loved her hyperbole-prone friend Carmella, as well as the other inhabitants of the institution in which Marian finds herself. The dialogue is very entertaining, for example:Georgina suddenly stared curiously at my crochet scarf. “Talking of animals, is that a jerkin for a grass snake that you are knitting?” Georgina could hardly be expected to guess it was a scarf. Still it was obvious that I was doing crochet work, not knitting.“No.” I said slightly nettled. ”It is not.”“Where did you get such nauseatingly green wool? It makes my dentures chatter.”“There are times when you are far too critical, Georgina. Maude Somers very kindly made me the present of this nice green wool, and I think it has a very pleasant springtime colour, like early chestnut leaves.”“I hope you don’t intend to wear it eventually?” said Georgina, ignoring my reproach. “You would look like Noah after he was drowned in the flood. Green is not your colour, you are far too green as it is.”“Surely you don’t expect me to look like a debutante?” I asked. “Besides Noah was not supposed to have drowned. He had an ark, you know, full of animals.”“Everybody knows that the whole bible is inaccurate. True, Noah did go off in an ark, but he got drunk and fell overboard. Mrs. Noah went aft and watched him drown, she didn’t do anything about it because she inherited all those cattle. People in the bible were very sordid and a lot of cattle in those days was like a bank account.”Georgina got up and threw her cigarette end into the bee pond, it fizzled unpleasantly.“Where are you going?” I asked, as I always enjoyed Georgina’s conversation.“I am going to read a novel so can go knitting your beastly sock.” She stalked off with a certain creaking elegance, leaving a faint scent behind her that reminded me of rue de la Paix. (view spoiler)[Although I found the central section about the mysterious Abbess a little too long, I have no other quibbles with this enchanting book. The sudden escalation of events in the final sixty pages was quite simply brilliant. ’Friendship, solidarity, and black magic amongst old women faced with a new ice age’ deserves to be a much more popular theme for fiction. (hide spoiler)]

  • TheSkepticalReader
    2019-04-09 01:49

    The Hearing Trumpet opens with our narrator’s best friend, Carmilla, gifting her a trumpet which she suggests our narrator use to listen in on her family’s conversations. Our narrator, Marian, then listens in on her family’s discussion about putting her into a home, which she can do nothing about but agree to go. Moving into the Institution brings a series of adventures and mysteries which become more and more bizarre as time passes.My favorite character of the book would have to be, hands down, Carmilla, Marian’s best friend. She is one of the most colorful older characters I can think of in fiction and every time her name pops up in the book, I know a treat awaits. In fact, almost all of the major characters of the book are painted with an incredible creative brush and the imagination explodes in little bits and pieces when it comes to this group of older women intending to spend their last days with joyful adventures.Though serious undertones run throughout the book, the wisps of humor in the seriousness of the ridiculous dialogue make this a delightful read. Marian’s observational narrative account of her family, her friends, and the Institution is both amusing and insightful of her thought process.This peculiar, mental little book was one of the best things I read all this month. It was read in conjunction with the Underhyped Books Read-a-Thon and wow, under hyped this book is!

  • Nesa Sivagnanam
    2019-04-14 01:48

    The Hearing Trumpet features 92-year-old Marian Leatherby as its polite, sensible and intrepid heroine.Marian’s adventures begin when she is given a hearing trumpet as a gift. She overhears her son and daughter-in-law’s plans to install her in a medieval Spanish castle that has been converted into a home for old ladies. There a mystery begins, involving a decidedly witchy 18th Century Abbess, the Holy Grail, and a plate of poisoned brownies. Trying to describe the plot doesn’t really do it justice, just go and read it. It’s enchanting and funny.In a cast of old women there are no crones and just one biddy: kind, timid Maude. Although even she is not what she appears to be. Instead the reader is introduced to glamorous and cynical Georgina, Veronica, who is blind, painting endless watercolours, dignified and enigmatic Christabel, religious visionary Natacha, graceful French Marquise Claude, frantic Anna, and Natacha’s devoted spiritual disciple Vera.As well as the ladies of Lightsome Hall there is Marian’s best friend Carmella, who writes letters to strangers, smokes cigars, brings port in a hot water bottle to evade confiscation, and devises audacious plans to spring Marian from the home.

  • Auriel Roe
    2019-04-11 06:45

    Leonara Carrington is one of my favourite artists and this book captures her surreal and quirky soul. There are some great passages - what a wit! - and some nicely structured sentences with clever comic timing. As a whole novel, it tends to drag, the plot is sketchy and she even forgets about the hearing trumpet, a key object in the book, for long stretches. Carrington needed a ruthless editor. If all else fails, you can just enjoy the handful of her illustrations.

  • Michael
    2019-03-19 23:51

    The Hearing Trumpet starts off as a light-heartedly humerous "batty old bag" kind of a story about a 92 year old woman, Marian Leatherby, and her rather unpleasant (or, at least, unsympathetic) family, who want to ship her off to a home for senile women, as they find her absent-minded wanderings something of an inconvenience and an embarrassment.Once arrived at the institution run by the Well of Light Brotherhood ("financed by a prominent American cereal company"), things take a darker and more unusual turn. The Brotherhood is run on a strictly-observed religious regimine that seeks to elevate its members to enlightenment through a process of taking their money and enforced frugality. According to Ali Smith in her introduction to the edition I have, the head of the Brotherhood, Dr. Gambit, is based upon G.I. Gurdjieff, and Gambit's frequent references to "The Work" and exhortations to be "self-remembering" do seem to point in Gurdjieff's direction.The middle section is a fairly long recitation from a manuscript of the doings of the patron saint of the brotherhood, Doña Rosalinda Alvarez Cruz della Cueva, who is portrayed (view spoiler)[by the Christian writer of the imagined manuscript as an evil witch, who we later find is a 'witch', and also an aspect of the tripartite Goddess of Celtic mythology (hide spoiler)].There are links to alchemy through the image of the Hermaphrodite; to the tarot through the image of the Blasted Tower; to Celtic Arthurian mythology and Christian Gnosticism through the image of the Grail; and to Millenial prophecy through the coming of the End Times in the form of global and spiritual catastrophe, all mixed together through the account of an almost certainly unrealiable narrator.The Hearing Trumpet has flavours that put me in mind of Stella Gibbons's Cold Comfort Farm and Gustav Meyrink's The Golem and The White Dominican, but Carrington uses her own recipe rather than following that of others.Throughout the book, there are plenty of endearing and eccentric characters (I'm slightly in love with Carmella Velasquez!), as well as appallingly eccentric ones, waspish humour and deadly machinations. I've shied away from using the adjective 'surreal', as Carrington was a talented surrealist artist and it seems too easy and lazy a word to throw in, but there it is - there is defnitely a building up of surreal elements as the story progresses, but not, I think, simply for stylistic effect. I look forward to re-reading the book and unpeeling its layers.

  • Niki Vervaeke
    2019-04-06 04:48

    Grandioos fijn boek, waar alles mogelijk is. We maken kennis met de 92-jarige (zwaar hardhorende) Marian die samenleeft met haar zoon en schoondochter. Haar beste vriendin is Carmella en dankzij haar krijgt ze een 'Hearing Trumpet' waardoor ze eindelijk hoort wat er tegen haar gezegd wordt. Met alle gevolgen vandien... van een heel erg vreemd bejaardentehuis met sektarische inslag tot moord, ecologische rampen enz... absurd, grotesk, fantastisch, over the top en tegelijk heel fijn om te lezen.

  • Paul Bonnici
    2019-04-09 23:36

    I loved the matter-of-fact style of storytelling, the bizarre ending, and all the characters. I would read an entire book of Carmella and Marian's schemes to break out of the institute.

  • Paul
    2019-03-22 06:36

    Surprisingly funny. A dry wit & humor. From the beginning there is an unassuming intelligence. It does not bludgeon nor speak in a condescending manner. I believe this comes from the earthen main character. She does not profess but merely speaks from the lessons of life. & yet it is not simplistic. It is rich with background knowledge. The artistic tastes. The Jungian references. The eccentricities of various characters. The odd premise itself. The mythology. The spiritual language. All hints of a mind which houses an intricate & special world of intellect. All artifacts & ideologies Carrington had either become acquainted with or immersed herself in throughout her artistically rich life. Her feminist views are not overt, & although subtle, seem quite apparent. The same goes for her political views. The book takes a turn, as books are prone to do. It becomes a tale within a tale, which is an aspect I found quite enjoyable. The turn is a delicious yet diabolical mysticism. Surrealism becomes much more of a potent flavor as the story progresses. The odd elixir becomes pungent. The foundation of reality is unhinged & the foundation of conventionalism is uprooted. Certainty crumbles & a wild new world emerges. In this context the language transforms as well. As if on the other side of the turn a new creature emerges from the cocoon of that transition. The story wraps up rather oddly. The ends are tied but in an odd bow, which I guess is befitting of such an oddity. The world of Carrington is a very interesting place & I look forward to delving into more of her work & even her life.

  • aya
    2019-03-26 05:32

    Somehow, Leonora Carrington creates a group of mad old women that are completely relatable and endearing in their madness. Although much of the book's beauty lay in its whimsy and sense of play, the strong current of humanity and compassion that runs through it makes it more than just fun. Leonora Carrington's mind is a mind that I want to live in, for its wild creativity and individuality, iron sense of self, and complete confidence in the wonders of life.

  • aisling
    2019-03-23 01:40

    climate change.

  • Alison
    2019-03-27 01:46

    This was hilarious and weird and droll in basically all the right ways. I adored it.

  • Michael
    2019-04-05 07:33

    Eccentric, enchanting, and delightful, the tale of Marian Leatherby and her superannuated friends is a fantastic and humorous romp with some serious observations made along the way. The ninety-two year-old protagonist is packed off by her family to an institution for old women without a thought for her wishes. As her daughter-in-law puts it to Marian's son, "'Remember Galahad,' added Muriel, 'these old people do not have feelings like you or I. She would be much happier in an institution where there's proper help to take care of her.'" Marian, who is almost deaf, learns of the plan to send her to the establishment run by the insane and greedy Dr. Gambit and his wife through the gift of a somewhat magical hearing trumpet purchased as a gift for her by her good and wacky friend, Carmella. The novel chronicles Marian's adventures in the institution and is replete with alchemical references, arcane religious imagery, and magical realism. The author manages to skewer the Roman Catholic Church and Gurdjieffian mysticism, while criticizing the mistreatment of elders in the modern world. The rollicking tale is certainly worthy of a surrealist painter and sculptor. Carrington's work is a bit of a roman à clef, but the introduction by Helen Byatt provides a helpful guide to the reader unfamiliar with Carrington's life and work. Pablo Weisz Carrington, the author's son and also a surrealist artist, provides interesting illustrations for the novel. The ending, which I will not spoil, offers the opportunity for multiple interpretations and actively engages the imagination of the reader. I read this in one day because I just couldn't put it down.

  • Chumbert Squurls
    2019-04-14 05:35

    For anyone who isn't familiar with Leonora Carrington, this is a great place to begin. Her only full length novel tells the story of a spry nonagenarian that gets stuck in a gothic old folks home that used to be an abbey practicing occult rituals. Carrington overflows with strange little ideas some funny(a planned breakout from the old folks home in a submarine) to incongruously bizarre(a man lives in the women-only old folks home disguised as a female until his unnatural death by poisoned chocolate.) The book reads like Carrington made it up as she went along, slowly going from the improbable to the completely impossible. A great read.Here's a sample passage taking place after the ice age has begun and most of the humans are dead."The interior of the ark was like the opium dream of a gypsy. There were embroidered hangings of wonderful design, perfume sprays shaped like exotic feathered birds, lamps like praying mantis with moveable eyes, velvet cushions in the form of gigantic fruits, and sofas mounted on prostrate werewomen beautifully scupltured in rare woods and ivory. All sorts of mummified creatures hung from the rooof in such skillful gestures that they seemed alive."

  • Emanuel
    2019-04-03 04:54

    Gamla kvinnor, crossdressing, giftmord, blinkande nunnor, Det Ockulta, katter, tempelriddare, Lappland, vänskap och violpastiller.Nästan varje sida innehåller något så bra att jag vill stryka under det varsamt med en rosa akvarellpenna och läsa det högt för alla mina vänner. T.ex:"Jag äter aldrig kött eftersom jag tycker det är fel att beröva djur livet när de ändå är så svårtuggade." (s. 6)"Tjänsteflickan, Rosina, är en indiankvinna med buttert humör och verkar allmänt avogt inställd till resten av mänskligheten. Jag tror inte hon placerar mig i människokategorin så vårt förhållande är inte oangenämt." (samma sida!!!)"Poliser är inte människor, så hur skulle polishundar kunna vara djur." (s. 21)Ja ni hör. Och då har berättelsen ännu knappt börjat - hela stämningen i boken skiftar för övrigt flera gånger. Absurdt? Filosofiskt? Gotiskt? Apokalyptiskt?Jättebra bok, tvinga alla att läsa!!!

  • Zach
    2019-03-21 00:49

    For about 80% of this book I was completely mystified at the devotion it seems to inspire in people-it wasn't surreal, it wasn't feminist, and it was boooooooring. The only interesting section focused on the retelling of a semi-mythological Abbess (that felt a bit like Foucault's Pendulum), but that ended too soon and dumped me right back into the ho-hum story of a bunch of quirky women in a nursing home run by a pseudo-Christian quack.And then I got to the last 30 pages or so, which apparently most people agree is the least satisfying part of the book. I have no idea what is wrong with most people. The story, for this too-brief closing section, finally fully explodes out of reality and into a surreal post-apocalyptic combination of various things that I don't even want to spoil here.I had big plans to read this in tandem with the issue of Race Traitor devoted to surrealism, but I have apparently misplaced it.