Humanoids has announced the English-language release of Céline Wagner‘s Betrayal of the Mind: The Surreal Life of Unica Zurn for March 2024. The graphic novel charts the life of the late German surrealist author, poet and painter Unica Zurn (1916-1970). This will mark Céline Wagner’s English-language debut. No translator has been named for the work, which comes from the publisher’s Life Drawn imprint.

The book’s synopsis:

“A childhood devastated by rape, the absence of an idealized father, a strict moral mother, and a passion for art shaped Unica Zürn. One of the only prominent female figures of the Surrealist movement, Zürn was tormented by inner demons that she shared through her automatic drawings and anagram poems. She longed for and rejected intimacy at once, seeking her so-called Man of Jasmine, an idealized male figure, throughout her life while living as the partner of Hans Bellmer, noted artist and photographer.

“As her schizophrenia began to overtake her, she longed to make the woman she once was disappear into the nameless pronoun She. In the eyes of Unica Zürn, madness was the only way to be in the world.”

Betrayal of the Mind was originally published in French as La Trahison du réel: Unica Zürn, portrait d’une schizophrène [tr. The betrayal of reality: Unica Zürn, portrait of a schizophrenic] with publisher La Boîte à Bulles in 2019. 

Céline Wagner’s debut work in 2003

Céline Wagner is a French graphic novelist with an early creative background in experimental poetry and comic collectives. Her early published comics work was in magazines but she made the leap to graphic novels in partnership with respected comics auteur Edmond Baudouin with 2003’s Les Yeux dans le mur [Eyes in the Wall], published by Dupuis. Wagner has won multiple awards for her work including a 2016 Montargis festival prize and the 2017 Grand Prix Artémisia [prize for women cartoonists] for 2016 book Frapper le sol [tr. Hitting the Ground], a biography of Tatsumi Hijikata, the inventor of Japanese dance form butô. Betrayal of the Mind is Wagner’s seventh graphic novel.

Humanoids has a consistent track record of picking up books from French publisher La Boîte à Bulles, particularly for its Life Drawn imprint. All the Life Drawn imprint early titles announced in 2018 (Nicolas Wild’s Kabul Disco; Clement Baloup’s Vietnamese Memories; and Carole Maurel’s Luisa: Now And Then) were pickups from the La Boîte à Bulles, which this year celebrates 20 years of existence.

Check out some preview pages from the book below:

PREVIEW: Betrayal of the Mind, page 28
PREVIEW: Betrayal of the Mind, page 54
PREVIEW: Betrayal of the Mind, page 79
PREVIEW: Betrayal of the Mind, page 103