Translated by William Kulik and Serena Shanken Skwersky, with an introduction by Jonathan P. Eburne / March 2020 / 4.5 x 7, 80 pp. / 978-1-939663-48-1
Originally published in French in 1979, Rogomelec was the third of Leonor Fini’s novels. All the qualities of the paintings for which she is famed can be found in it: an undermining of patriarchy, the ambiguities of gender and the slipperiness of desire, along with darker hints of cruelty and the voluptuousness of fear. This novella’s ambiguous narrator sets off for the isolated locale of Rogomelec—where a crumbling monastery serves as a sanatorium and offers a cure involving a diet of plants and flowers—and moves through a waking dream involving strangely scented monks, vibratory concerts in a cavernous ossuary, and ritualist pomp with costumes of octopi and shining beetles. As the days unfold, the narrator discovers that the “the celebration of the king” is approaching, the events of which will lead to a shocking discovery in Rogomelec’s Gothic ruins. This first English translation includes 14 drawings by Fini that accompanied the novella’s original publication.
Born in Argentina and raised in Italy, Leonor Fini (1907–1996), concluded a rebellious youth with a move to Paris and a career in painting. Her six decades of work as artist, illustrator, designer, and author bore close ties to the Surrealist movement, but though the Surrealists saw her as one of them, she herself never identified as a Surrealist. Rejecting the role of muse, her work focused on portrayals of women as subjects with desire as opposed to objects of desire, and was groundbreaking in its explorations of mythology, androgyny, death, and life as Mannerist theater.
“Rogomelec is a casket of dark gems; an encounter to savour and circle back to.”
—John Howard, Wormwood
“Rogomelec posits life beyond storytelling as unsustainable—edging towards catatonia when unduly prolonged—but alsos vital, enriching, and worthy of experience.”
—Caroline Reagan, Full Stop