La vita, il sogno, la crisi. Le percezioni distorte nell’opera di Unica Zürn

Elena Agazzi

Abstract


Over the last few years many studies have been carried out on the presence of a surrealist movement in the first half of 20th-century Germany. Publications to be mentioned here are, among few others, Der Surrealismus in Deutschland (?) edited by Karina Schuller and Isabel Fischer (2016), Surrealismus in der deutschsprachigen Literatur edited by Friederike Reents (2009), as well as Alltags-Surrealismus. Literatur, Theater, Film edited by Sven Hanuschek and Margit Dirscherl (2012). Unica Zürn (1916-1970) represents a particular case within this scenario: her psychophysical discomfort, in fact, ended up  enhancing the formal suggestions derived from the French and German Surrealism, which is also due to her tormented relationship with Hans Bellmer (1902-1975), one of the protagonists of the Parisian Surrealism. The paper aims to investigate Zürn’s autobiographical writings – such as Das Haus der Krankheiten – along with others like Der Mann im Jasmin and Dunkler Frühling. Despite their distance to the self, indeed, they contribute to sketch her life. By taking into account her drawings and paintings as well, the paper also analyses how the practice of a writing that records mental and physical upheavals, alongside the use of the anagram and the intersections between words and illustrations, have assumed the value of a therapeutic self-control over the most acute crises, acting at the same time as a cultural testament that prefigures the tragic outcome of her existence.

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