Mountains are sublime and so are ghosts. Most viewers, though, Georgette knows, won’t find sublimity in this image of her friend Suzanne Dhout’s face: pale and glum and intentionally mislabeled – a wan woman with montagne scrawled across her nose and cheeks, an angled peak.
These days they live at 97 Rue des Mimosas in Brussels, but in those they lived in Paris, and Georgette felt sick daily with the urge to return home. In this image, Suzanne wears a black jacket and sits in a wooden room. And although it’s a portrait, Mag had called it The Phantom Landscape, and had painted the specter of loneliness peeking through.
Sensing what she’s thinking, Loulou the Pomeranian nudges himself beneath her hand for some pets. “I’ll never forget how blech Paris was,” he says. “I’m so glad we came back.” “Me too,” she says. “And I’m glad his reviews have gotten better ever since.” “It’s true,” says Loulou. “Though it’s strange that he has so many admirers, so few followers.” They are sitting amid the tubes and brushes that bristle the boudoir, which could also be labeled studio, since that’s where Magritte paints, just as he always used to. And he still likes wordplay, but only if he’s well-matched and at the highest standard.
He comes in after doing an interview with a reporter from a TV program. “How did it go?” she and Loulou ask in unison. “Oh, fine, fine,” he says, taking off his bowler. “But the host made sure to ask me a last question with a ghastly pun that revealed his innermost nature: ‘May I express the hope that you’ll have Surrealism for a Dada for a long time to come?’ Which left me completely dumbfounded, as I always am, when confronted with self-satisfied stupidity.”
Max Ernst once called her husband a painter of collages. As she and Loulou laugh, she can see another aspect of what he was referring to: Mag sticks himself indelibly onto everything they do.
Kathleen Rooney is a founding editor of Rose Metal Press, a publisher of literary work in hybrid genres, and a founding member of Poems While You Wait. Co-editor of *The Selected Writings of René Magritte*, forthcoming from Alma Books (UK) and University of Minnesota Press (U.S.) in 2016, she is also the author of seven books of poetry, nonfiction, and fiction, including, most recently, the novel *O,Democracy!* (2014) and the novel in poems *Robinson Alone *(2012). Her second novel,*Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk*, will be published by St.Martin's Press in 2017.