Valerie and Her Week of Wonders
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Written in 1935 at the height of Czech Surrealism, this parable of menstruation is a bizarre erotic fantasy of a young girl's maturation into womanhood. Drawing on de Sade's Justine, and Nosferatu and the language of pulp serials, this a lyrical, menacing dream of sexual awakening involves a vampire with a taste for chicken blood, changelings, lecherous priests, with an androgynous merging of brother and sister. An exploration of the grotesque, a meditation on youth and age, sexuality and death.
Your mother entered the convent to become a nun.” Valerie turned pale. She felt as if her throat were contracting and she could not utter a sound. “It wasn’t just my wish, you know. It was her own decision to make the sacrifice.” Valerie was amazed she had been born. “Your father was the Bishop of –. Surely you remember the day he died; we went to his funeral.” Valerie finally understood the upheaval surrounding the funeral of the Bishop of –, which had turned Grandma’s house upside down.
staring. In one corner of the room someone was laughing. Valerie saw a knot of women bent over a table where something was happening. Sitting at it was a man performing card tricks. He would pick out two and two and wave them in front of himself. The girls laughed out loud. Valerie could not understand what could be so funny about this game. “Enough of this film,” laughed one young woman. The man threw the cards away. One landed at Valerie’s feet. It bore an obscene picture. “Wine!” called the
insubstantial as a shadow. No, I do not have the courage to contemplate what befell her there, at his seat in Italy, which he sold shortly after my mother’s death. No one ever discovered the secret of his house, and it was not just one house – God only knows how many times he has moved in the course of his squalid life, which even now is evidently far from reaching its end. And now comes the most distressing part. One of the houses to have witnessed his secret is the one where you now live. Oh
act of piety than her grandmother came to tell her it was time to dress for the service, which was to be dedicated to the instruction and exhortation of virgins. Running into the garden to gather some rosemary, Valerie placed her most beautiful clothes in the arbor. Chapter IV THE SERMON That evening, there were so many young girls in the church that it looked like a congress of angels. Valerie was standing opposite the pulpit. She gazed downwards and listened tensely to the background
Oh virgin, do you know who you are? You are an alabaster hand extended in a house of plague, infested with flies. You are a vessel whose neck I bless with my thumb. You are an as yet uncleft pomegranate. You are a shell in which the future ages will ring. You are a bud which will burst when the time is ripe. You are a little rose-petal boat floating on the tempestuous ocean. You are a peach oozing red blood ...” At these words something impelled Valerie to glance up. The missionary with the head