A classic of fantastic literature, Leonora Carrington’s The Hearing Trumpet is the occult twin to Alice in Wonderland, published with an introduction by Ali Smith in Penguin Modern Classics.
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 in a sinister
retirement home, where the elderly must inhabit buildings shaped like
igloos and birthday cakes, 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 brilliantly 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.
Carrington (1917-2011) was a British born Surrealist painter and writer
described, alongside people such as Pablo Picasso and Joan Miro, as one
of the leading lights of the Surrealist movement. Born in Lancashire to
a strict Catholic family, she first came into contact with surrealism
through her lover, Surrealist painter Max Ernst, before moving to Mexico
in 1942. The Hearing Trumpet, her most famous piece of writing, was first published in France in 1974.