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Hearing Trumpet (Penguin Classics) by…
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Hearing Trumpet (Penguin Classics) (edition 2005)

by Leonora Carrington (Author)

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8122820,372 (3.92)82
92-year-old Marian Leatherby is given a hearing trumpet, then discovers that what her family is saying is that she is to be committed to an institution where the buildings are shaped like birthday cakes and igloos and the gateway to the underworld is open.
Member:FuschiasRoom
Title:Hearing Trumpet (Penguin Classics)
Authors:Leonora Carrington (Author)
Info:Penguin Books (2005), 176 pages
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The Hearing Trumpet by Leonora Carrington

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English (26)  Italian (1)  All languages (27)
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
What a kooky, fun ride this book is! The plot falls further and further down the rabbit hole, which is fitting as this could exist alongside 'Alice in Wonderland'. I feel this reminds me of so many books, but so many of the weird books I have read have probably been inspired by Leonora's writing. The details are so funny and so charming. I really enjoyed it.

Another favorite book of mine is Heidi Sopinka's 'The Dictionary of Animal Languages' which is inspired by Leonora Carrington's life using another name for the main character (Ivory). Now that I have read this book, I can definitely see that Ivory of 'Dictionary of Animal Languages' is also inspired by Marian Leatherby of 'The Hearing Trumpet', both being older women over the age of ninety recounting their memories. Marian says "my memory is full of all sorts of stuff which is not, perhaps, in chronological order, but there is a lot of it" - which is basically the plot and purpose of 'The Dictionary of Animal Languages' and Ivory of 'Dictionary' says that she is in a "protest against forgetting".

"Although freedom has come to us somewhat late in life, we have no intention of throwing it away again. Many of us have passed our lives with domineering and peevish husbands. When we were finally delivered of these we were chivvied around by our sons and daughters who not only no longer loved us, but considered us a burden and objects of ridicule and shame. Do you imagine in your wildest dreams that now we have tasted freedom we are going to let ourselves be pushed around once more by you and your leering mate?" (pg 154)

The book is definitely not only kooky. There is some real deep meaning and messages there.All three of these women - Leonora, Marian, and Ivory did not need to reach old age to be marginalized. In my mind, they exist in conversation with each other. I am very appreciative to 'The Hearing Trumpet' for at least opening my eyes to a new facet of 'The Dictionary of Animal Languages' and of course, Leonora herself. ( )
  booklove2 | Apr 19, 2021 |
Born in 1917, Leonora Carrington was the archetypal Surrealist wild child and muse, and a painter and writer in her own right, who ran away from London to Paris age 19 to continue her love affair with the painter Max Ernst. Post war, and after incarceration in a Spanish mental institution, she settled in Mexico. The Hearing Trumpet is just as surprising and anarchic as you might expect from someone with Leonora Carrington’s history.

Marian Letherby, age 92, is an Englishwoman living in an unnamed Spanish-speaking American country with her son and his family. Given a hearing trumpet by her friend Carmella she discovers that her family is planning to send her to a home run by the ‘Well of Light Brotherhood:

‘The Well of Light Brotherhood’ said Carmella, ‘ is obviously something extremely sinister. Not I suppose a company for grinding old ladies into breakfast cereal, but something morally sinister. It all sounds terrible. I must think of something to rescue you from the jaws of the Well of Light’.’

On arrival at the home, Marion discovers that the ‘Well of Light’ is strange indeed:

‘The main building was in fact a castle, surrounded by various pavilions with incongruous shapes. Pixielike dwellings shaped like toadstools, Swiss chalets, railway carriages, one or two ordinary bungalows, something shaped like a boot, another like what I took to be an outsize Egyptian mummy.’

And why is there a very strange portrait of a winking nun in the dining hall?

The first half of The Hearing Trumpet is merely a little idiosyncratic, but halfway through Marion is given a manuscript to read: ‘A True and Faithful rendering of the Life of Rosalinda Alvarez Della Cueva, abbess of the Convent of Saint Barbara of Tartarus’ and after this things get very weird indeed.

I struggled with this half-way through, but the ending was so utterly unexpected and so very, very mad that it completely redeemed itself. Imagine a surrealist painting written down and you won’t go far wrong! ( )
  SandDune | Dec 5, 2020 |
Stuck in the Home Counties during lockdown, and reading Sussex-related lit, this is a bit of a tangent. Loved by a couple of friends, and charming - especially Marian Leatherby herself, but I'm spoilt by Angela Carter & Fevvers! Some really fun moments, though, like the observation about people following governments, the fudge-poison sequence, every bit of spying and eavesdropping, and the calculation of how long it would take to collect enough cat fur for a sweater. Still, the only lockdown-walking related resonance really came from the sense of money and smugness of Chiddingly & East Hoathly, not least the Parsonage and its huge land ownership, in the service of 'their angry and vicious God'. ( )
  emmakendon | Jul 11, 2020 |
I don't want you to think this is a begrudging three stars; I really did like it. The book is very strange and weird, and I feel like a LOT of it went over my head, but... it was short (as I must have mentioned, this quality in a book will make me forgive a lot of sins), and it is highly quotable.

For instance, some quotes I got out of it - "Policemen are not human beings so how can police dogs be animals?" and "the notoriously pig-headed race of Britain…" (as an Anglo, this one cracked me up quite a lot.)

I also like the idea of writing about old women who've been basically cast out by their families, because they're too old to be considered properly "human" any more. And that's such a depressing idea, so I like that this book was quite light-hearted and good-humoured about it, without shying away from it at all.

It's just, like I said, I felt like a lot went over my head... and at one point there was a 27-page diversion to describe the history of some people and I tend to dislike it when books do that. But yeah. Overall, I liked it, and that's what three stars is meant to suggest so there! ( )
  Jayeless | May 27, 2020 |
Dit wonderlijke,surrealistische en magische verhaal is geestig op een bijzondere manier. Het intermezzo – het boek over de Lonkende non – geeft het verhaal een bijzondere, metafysische wending, maar aan het einde valt alles op zijn plaats. Met haar formidabele verbeeldingskracht weet Carrington met haar verhalen te betoveren. ( )
  sjjk | Apr 25, 2020 |
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» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Carrington, Leonoraprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Franco, HuguetteJacket Designsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, AliIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weisz-Carrington, PabloIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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When Carmella gave me the present of a hearing trumpet she may have foreseen some of the consequences.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

92-year-old Marian Leatherby is given a hearing trumpet, then discovers that what her family is saying is that she is to be committed to an institution where the buildings are shaped like birthday cakes and igloos and the gateway to the underworld is open.

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Book description
'This is how the Goddess reclaimed her Holy Cup with an army of bees, wolves, six old women, a postman, a Chinaman, an atom-driven ark and a werewoman.' Leonora Carrington's vividly beautiful surrealist stories received wide acclaim. Now a full-length novel appears - the confidently freewheeling story of ninety-two-year-old Marian Leatherby, exiled with her hearing trumpet to a retirement home that is very odd indeed. Here she discovers the secret of the Learing Abbess and the Holy Grail and when the women rise up against their 'protectors' all manner of cosmic upheavel ensues...
First written in the early 1960s, The Hearing Trumpet seemed destined to remain unknown to all but a few admirers, when the manuscript was lost. An early draft was found in 1973 and Leonora Carrington prepared it for publicatioin in France, where it was immediately hailed as a classic of 'fantastic' literature.
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