The family left Paris when she was nine, going first to the south of the country. When the deprivations of the war became too much and the southern part of France, the Zone libre , was invaded by Germany and Italy in , the family left France entirely for Mexico when she was ten years old. Her father remained in France to fight, participating later in D-Day in Normandy. Growing up, French was her primary language and it was spoken the most at home. Elena learned her Spanish from people on the streets during her time there as a young girl.
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Podemos entenderlos o no, pero, a fin de cuentas, lo que la autora nos presenta es un retrato honesto del ser humano. Creo que solo al final de la novela, se presenta un poco de su compromiso al movimiento pero es apenas una pincelada. Retener me parece que implica quedarse en contra de la voluntad propia. In Mexico, our story tends to be told in a subjective manner and always taking sides: the characters were either heroes or were villains, and that is all.
But the Poniatowska presents characters which have flaws, who make mistakes, lose reason, love and hate with madness. We can understand them or not, but in the end, what the author presents is an honest portrait of the human being. Leonora is not an exception. In this novel, the author portrays the life and times of Leonora Carrington, English painter who lived in Mexico after the forties and who has part of a group of exiled artists that continued exploring surrealism.
While it is true that Leonora was not born in Mexico, a large part of her work was produced here, as she arrived in the country when she was barely 30, escaping World War II. It is also true that one cannot conclude that Mexico had a strong impact on the formation of Carrington -as her beliefs, her technique and her artistic inspiration had been defined years before, in Paris and thanks to Max Ernst; however, Leonora worked and gained international recognition in Mexico.
Carrington was a free, rebel and complex woman and Ponatiwoska presents her life from her early childhood in Crookhey Hall in England, until her death in Mexico City when she was 94 years old. The daughter of a very wealthy English man, she was destined for a privileged life, full of luxury, but she would have needed to sacrifice her creative.
Before she was 20 she had already decided to leave her house, go to Paris to paint and live with the man who changed her world -the German painter Max Ernst. For several years they created their own world, living under their rules and producing a great deal of their art work. Her stay there was another one of the big moments on her life as the treatment was brutal and she was lonely for three years. After three years in treatment she escapes to Portugal and in Lisbon she will find Max again but also Mexican writer and diplomat Roberto Leduc, whom she had met before in Paris.
These encounters will redefine her future. From the novel one understands that their encounter in Portugal was quite incidental as Max was not looking for Leonora but was rather with his new lover, Peggy Guggenheim, waiting for a visa for the USA. We understand -probably as she did- that the times and loves of Ernst were coming to an end, because so much suffering without reciprocity would not have been fair, and she knew it.
It is said that in truth the marriage was one of convenience so that Carrington could leave Europe, at least the novel does explore a more personal relation -not as passionate as the one she had with Ernst but one of camaraderie and support.
And so Leonora arrives in Mexico. The first years in the country were not easy for her as she did not speak Spanish, could not understand the beliefs of the Mexican people and did not sympathize with the strongest cultural group in the country at that time, led by Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo.
Shortly she divorces Roberto and she marries Emerico Weisz, known as Chiki, an Hungarian refugee and survivor from the concentration camps. At the same time, she starts meeting a larger group of European refugees in Mexico, whose brightest figure would be Remedios Varo. It is then that she starts finding a place in the country, she has kids and builds a large artistic work of paintings and books that gave her international recognition.
The last part of the book describes how Leonora sees Mexico and some extraordinary travels she made around the country -her trip to Xilitla, with Edward James, or her time in Chiapas, that served her to paint a famous mural known as The Magical World of the Mayas.
For those of us who were not familiar with Ms. This is a novel but also -and perhaps more accurately— a biography of a complete, extraordinary life. Through its pages we can understand the life of a brilliant woman but also of an extraordinary time when Mexico was the center of a rich cultural life, when people from over the world met and created great artistic works.
Now, the only thing I did not enjoy about the book -and the reason why I did not give it 5 stars— is that some sections seemed to linger for long and that at part, the narration changed abruptly thus making it a bit confusing. Nothing that flawed the story in general but I personally feel that there are parts of the narration that are too long -as said, her time and the mental institution, her meeting with Max in New York and some other parts during her life in Mexico.
I feel that had the narration been more precise and short, the impact would have remained the same or been even stronger. Another aspect that I did not see deeply explored on the book is on her feminism. For example, I am not sure if the novel does not address this properly, but I never understood why she defied her father.
We understand Mr. Carrington would have like another life for her daughter -she was even introduced to the king and queen at court and expected her to marry an appropriate suitor — but he gave her what she wanted. A vengeful father woukld not have done so and would have left her daughter to the fate she has chosen.
And nevertheless, Leonora always held a grudge against him and never saw him again. This grudge or hatred seemed to be quite strong -I never truly understood it- so strong that it did not allow her to return to England though we sense she would have liked to, because England represented her father.
To keep someone implies that the person is staying against her will. Would Leonora had been happier elsewhere? That is hard to tell as she said she was always looking out for something. Aside these comments, I think this is a very interesting novel, easy to read and enjoyable. As mentioned before Elena Poniatowska pays a tribute to wonderful women -as she has done with Tina Modotti or Lupe Marin — and she does so in an excellent manner.
LIBRO LEONORA Elena Poniatowska PDF