Letters, Dreams, and Other Writings

Letters, Dreams, and Other Writings

Remedios Varo

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Translated, with an introduction, by Margaret Carson / November 2018 / 4.5 x 7, 128 pp. / 978-1-939663-39-9

Out of print

While the reputation of Remedios Varo the Surrealist painter is now well established, Remedios Varo the writer has yet to be fully discovered. Her writings, never published during her life let alone translated into English, offer the same qualities to be found in her visual work: an engagement with mysticism and magic, a breakdown of the border between the everyday and the marvelous, a love of mischief, and an ongoing meditation on the need for (and the trauma of) escape in all its forms.

This volume brings together the painter’s collected writings, and includes an unpublished interview, letters to friends and acquaintances (as well as to people unknown), dream accounts, notes for unrealized projects, a project for a theater piece, whimsical recipes for controlled dreaming, exercises in Surrealist automatic writing, as well as prose-poem commentaries on her paintings. It also includes her longest manuscript, the pseudoscientific On Homo rodans: an absurdist study of the wheeled predecessor to Homo sapiens (the skeleton of which Varo had built out of chicken bones). Written by the invented anthropologist Hälikcio von Fuhrängschmidt, Varo utilizes eccentric Latin and a tongue-in-cheek pompous discourse to explain the origins of the first umbrella and in what ways Myths are merely corrupted Myrtles.

Remedios Varo (1908–1963) was a Spanish-born painter who entered the Surrealist circle in Paris before the German occupation forced her into exile to Mexico at the end of 1941, where she would stay until the end of her life. Her dream-infused, allegorical work combines the elements of classical training, alchemical mysticism, and fairy-tale science.


“Decrypting the logic that underlies her pictorial and prosaic universe, readers may transcend the stagnant sense of awe to interact with the beings and things that populate it, all of which are seen to be alive.”
—Elisa Taber, review 31

“Fans of the surrealist painter Remedios Varo likely won’t be surprised that her writing is as wide reaching and imaginative as her work on canvas.”
The Paris Review

“We can take pleasure in Varo’s intimate musings, but we should also acknowledge the writings as creative works that are as significant and intoxicating as her visual art.”
—M. Buna, Hyperallergic

“Remedios Varo is far better known in Mexico than in the barbarian lands north of the border. This revelatory little missile will make at least a little hole in the infernal stupid wall, and perhaps even in the clouds of tear-gas.”
—Martin Billheimer, Counterpunch

Letters, Dreams & Other Writings, deftly translated by Margaret Carson, is the first compilation of the painter’s prose in English. As with her paintings, Varo’s writing is a wily escapism, flouting the ordinary to bring us closer to the everyday.”
—Zack Hatfield, The Brooklyn Rail

“Varo’s daily life is a constantly evolving surrealist practice. She describes children with fleshy sword appendages in her dreams and a solar system she has built out of everyday objects in her living room in order to manipulate reality. Her thoughts are laid bare in these pieces and made accessible in a way that few female surrealists’ reflections have ever been.”
—Claire Mullen, Public Books

“This stell ar little book collects, among others, an interview with Varo, as well as her letters, dream récits, automatic writings, commentary on paintings, and nots on a variety of projects.”
—Jeremy Biles, Religious Studies Review

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