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Remedios Varo – On Homo Rodans and Other Writings

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With the 2018 publication of Letters, Dreams, and Other Writings, Wakefield Press introduced the writings of Surrealist painter Remedios Varo into English for the first time. These texts, never published during her lifetime, presented something of a missing chapter, and offered 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This new, expanded volume brings together the painter’s collected writings, an unpublished interview, letters to friends and acquaintances (as well as to people unknown), dream accounts, notes for unrealized projects, a project for a theater piece,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, and 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, the essay 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.

Also included are newly discovered writings, among them three short stories, never before published in any language.

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 works combine the elements of classical training, alchemical mysticism, and fairy-tale science.

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