By Subashini Navaratnam.
Unica Zurn, The Trumpets of Jericho, translated by Christina Svendsen (Wakefield Press)
Based on the Bible tale, the walls of the city of Jericho dropped after the Israelite army blew their trumpets. In Unica Zurn’s The Trumpets of Jericho, terms substitute for the blare for the trumpets, and penetrate the fortress this is the body. Particularly, this is the feminine body amid childbirth that disintegrates, dropping its boundaries and merging with language. As Christina Svendsen, translator of the edition, describes in an introduction to the text, Zurn “dramatises the frontiers of body”, and does so in a manner that might even alienate her visitors—especially her male people. The female human anatomy here's not a soothing balm for beleaguered male souls, or a source of powerful erotic power. With its maternal opportunities and trappings, it's rendered possibly dangerous and unsightly. This is not the feminine as a type of the traditional Muse, providing a channel into imaginative capabilities regarding the unconscious for male musician. Alternatively, the female body, as Zurn writes it, prescribes its reasoning and language upon the world. Particularly this is the expecting girl, constantly overdetermined in her own corporeality, who is able to occur metaphorically and symbolically.
Zurn, a publisher and musician produced in Germany in 1916, ended up being deeply impacted by French surrealism. Though she predated French feminist theorists like Helen Cixous and Luce Irigaray who would, within the 1970s, delineate a type of writing generally ecriture feminine contrary to the sort of writing created by the stable, logical Enlightenment masculine topic, The Trumpets of Jericho is a textbook exemplory case of “writing the body”. Unlike the easily-consumed forms of “women’s composing” that saturate the writing marketplace today, a lot of which appears built to discipline female imagination and imagination in capitalist-friendly methods, Zurn’s female body is a thing of both scary and absurdity. The sketchy autobiographical information obtainable in English on Zurn suggests that her commitment with German surrealist musician Hans Bellmer may have been the catalyst for all of her writings, like the notion that their commitment led to physical problems for Zurn, including abortions and miscarriages. The physical burdens of a heterosexual relationship, whether it’s a troubled or rewarding one, or certainly a mix of both, tend to be borne by the female body; in Jericho, Zurn writes: “All births must certanly be prohibited from today onwards. All births must be penalized because of the demise penalty.” It may be helpful, then, to take into account the kind of experiences Zurn had to endure as a female to compose those lines.