9781681375007

Alice Paalen Rahon

by ;
  • ISBN13:

    9781681375007

  • ISBN10:

    1681375001

  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2020-09-22
  • Publisher: New York Review of Books

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Summary

Poetry by one of the most powerful female figures in twentieth-century surrealism, now collected in English for the very first time.

Alice Paalen Rahon was a shapeshifter, a surrealist poet turned painter who was born French and died a naturalized citizen of Mexico. Along with her first husband, the artist Wolfgang Paalen, her circle included Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, Joan Miró, Paul Éluard, Man Ray, and Anaïs Nin. Bicultural, bisexual, and fiercely independent, her romantic life included affairs with Pablo Picasso and the poet Valentine Penrose. This new collection of Rahon’s poems, included both in the original French and in translation by Mary Ann Caws, celebrates the visionary work of a woman who defied easy definition. Her spellbinding poems, inspired by prehistoric art, lost love, and her travels around the globe, weave together dream, fantasy, and madness. Gathered together in one volume for the first time in any language, this book contains all of the poetry Rahon published in her lifetime as well as unpublished work from her archives.

Author Biography

Alice Paalen Rahon (1904–1987), born Alice Marie Yvonne Phillipot, was a surrealist painter and poet. Raised in Paris, she became involved in the city’s surrealist subculture in the 1920s and married the Austrian surrealist painter Wolfgang Paalen in 1931. She and Wolfgang traveled to North and Latin America in the late 1930s, and settled in Mexico in 1940. Rahon wrote three books of poetry and contributed to the surrealist journal Dyn. After divorcing and remarrying, Rahon remained in Mexico City, adopting elements of its landscape, culture, and symbolism in her visual work. She stopped painting in the late 1970s and lived much of her later years in seclusion.

Mary Ann Caws is the Distinguished Professor Emerita of Comparative Literature,English, and French at the Graduate School of the City University of New York and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is the author of dozens of books, including Glorious Eccentrics: Modernist Women Painting and Writing, The Surrealist Look, and Surprised in Translation; the editor of The Yale Anthology of Twentieth-Century French Poetry; and the translator of, among many others, André Breton, René Char, Robert Desnos, and Paul Éluard. She lives in New York.

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