Unica Zürn – Dark Spring
by Unica Zürn
Translated and with an Introduction by Caroline Rupprecht
128 pages, paperback
“For who could bear love without dying from it?”
Dark Spring is an autobiographical coming-of-age novel that reads more like an exorcism than a memoir. In it author Unica Zürn traces the roots to her obsessions: the exotic father she idealized, the “impure” mother she detested, the masochistic fantasies and onanistic rituals which she said described “the erotic life of a little girl based on my own childhood.” Dark Spring is the story of a young girl’s simultaneous introduction to sexuality and mental illness, revealing a different aspect of the “mad love” so romanticized by the (predominantly male) Surrealists.
Unica Zürn (1916-1970) emigrated in 1953 from her native Berlin to Paris, in order to live with the artist Hans Bellmer. There she exhibited drawings as a member of the Surrealist group, and collaborated with Bellmer on a series of notorious photographs, of her nude torso bound with string. In 1957, a fateful encounter with the poet and painter Henri Michaux led to the first of what would become a series of mental crises, some of which she documented in her writings. She committed suicide in 1970 — an act foretold in this, her last completed work.
“Preadolescent sexuality merges with depressive fantasy… Unusual and memorable fiction.”
— Kirkus Reviews