Susannah Clapp: A Card From Angela Carter (2012)

A Card From Angela Carter

I wanted to read Susannah Clapp’s book A Card from Angela Carter since reading TJ’s review on her blog My Book Strings during Angela Carter Week last year. I’m glad I finally got a chance to do so. It’s a small but exuberant little book. Very much in the spirit of Angela Carter herself. Susannah Clapp is Angela Carter’s literary executor. She was one of the co-founders of the London Review of Books. She writes theater critics for different newspapers.

A Card From Angela Carter is biographical but it’s not a biography as such. It’s an homage and much more like a patchwork, loosely inspired by a collection of postcards Angela Carter sent Susannah Clapp over the years of their friendship. Reading these vignette-like biographical snippets is like watching a photo develop in a darkroom. With every card, with every story of Angela Carter’s life, the writer emerges more and more distinctly.

Clapp touches on subjects as wide as Angela Carter’s taste, her books, her love of kitsch, her exuberant nature, her use of swear words, her politics, her feminism, the fact that she was never nominated for the Booker, her choice to go grey, her teenage anorexia, her travels, her stay in Japan and the US, her thoughts on housework and sex.

You learn a lot about Angela Carter when reading this. About her marriage, divorce, second marriage and late motherhood. About her relationship with her parents. Her studies, her interests. I wasn’t aware that the Orange Prize was founded because Angela Carter’s work was never on the Booker shortlist. Clapp’s book is fascinating, because Angela Carter was such a fascinating author but what I liked best is that the book puts you in the mood to go and pick up Angela Carter’s work. And it certainly makes you wish you’d known her.

A Card From Angela Carter is inspiring in many ways. It works as an homage and a teaser that tempts you to go deeper and to (re-) read her work and the books about her.

Angela Carter Week June 2014 – Wrap-up

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This was such an exciting week. When Delia and I decided to host an Angela Carter Week we couldn’t foresee such a great success. So many fascinating posts and discussions. So many people who have either discovered a new favourite author or rediscovered her writing. What I liked best was the enthusiasm and the lively discussions and how all of our posts together are like one big tapestry, which mirrors and illustrates Angela Carter’s themes, the symbolism in her work, the topics.

It was great to see that some picked up a second book after finishing the first and certainly will go on reading her.

There were some critical comments as well. There should be, actually, after all, she’s a provocative writer and some of her topics are disturbing and can make a reader feel uncomfortable. I don’t think she ever wanted to please and that’s illustrated in some of our posts as well.

We’ve had 34 contributions, one of which from Russia. I had to use google translate to read it and wouldn’t have seen it if the writer of the post hadn’t linked to my post. Unfortunately I couldn’t leave a comment.

 

Thanks to everyone who joined us, to those who read Angela Carter’s books, wrote about them, discussed them and to those who read our thoughts on her work.

A very big thank you goes to Delia, my co-host.

 

Here are the links to all the participants’ posts.

1. Brona 14. Danielle @ A Work in Progress – Angela Carter’s Fairy Tales Part 1 27. Caroline @ Beauty is a Sleeping Cat – American Ghosts and Old World Wonders
2. Melinda Jane Harrison 15. TJ @ MyBook Strings (Love) 28. Yasmine Rose – Love
3. Bluebeard (Dolce Bellezza) 16. Priya @ Tabula Rasa (American Ghosts and Old World Wonders) 29. Vishy (The Magic Toyshop)
4. TJ @ MyBook Strings (Love) 17. Helen @ She Reads Novels (The Bloody Chamber) 30. The Reading Life Angela Carter on Tales Versus Traditional Short Stories
5. Violet @ Still Life With Books // Love 18. Brona (The Bloody Chamber – the cat stories) 31. Brona (The Fall River Axe Murders)
6. The Reading Life (The Man Who Loved a Double Bass) 19. Jane @ Fleur in her World (The Magic Toyshop) 32. Book Notes – Кровавая &#
7. Candiss @ Read the Gamut (The Fall River Axe Murders) 20. Violet @ Still Life With Books // Heroes and Villains 33. Delia @ Postcards from Asia – Nights at the Circus
8. The Reading Life “ Black Venus” plus Rushdie picks 21. Helen @ a gallimaufry (Several Perceptions) 34. Danielle @ A Work in Progress – Angela Carter’s Fairy Tales Part 2
9. Delia @ Postcards from Asia – The Bloody Chamber 22. The Reading Life “ The Company of Wolves” 35. Yasmine Rose – Fireworks
10. Caroline @ Beauty is a Sleeping Cat – The Magic Toyshop 23. Yasmine Rose – Bluebeard 36. Lit Nerd – Nights at the Circus
11. Violet @ Still Life With Books // The Magic Toyshop 24. Cathy 746 Books 37. TJ @ MyBookStrings – A Card From Angela Carter by Susannah Clapp
12. Brona (The Bloody Chamber) 25. Lindy Lit – Black Venus
13. The Reading Life “ Wolf Alice” 26. Brona (The Bloody Chamber – the rest!)
Angela Carter Week

Angela Carter: American Ghosts and Old World Wonders (1993)

American Ghosts

I’m sure we all read because we like a good story but aren’t we equally keen on writing which ignites our imagination? Writing that connects us with our subconscious, our emotions and dreams? Angela Carter knows how to tell a story but more than that, she inspires. She makes us think, explore, dream, fantasize, question. Sometimes it’s not even important to understand every aspect of her short fiction but just to read one of her wonderful sentences, discover one of her splendid images is enough.

The short story collection American Ghosts and Old World Wonders is such a treasure trunk. It’s full of retellings, deconstruction, parodies, reimagining of old myths, fables and fairy tales. It wasn’t always a breezy read. I had to hunt for a few academic papers in order to fully understand the one or the other of the pieces in this book. Like in all of her collections, there were a few stories that stood out and I’ve even found a new favourite.

In this collection Angela Carter mixes myths and elements of the American Dream and/or of America as the land of dreams, the country of  one of the biggest movie industries, the country of serial killers and westerns, of endless possibilities, and juxtaposes these elements with stories from the old world – fairy tales and history. The result is stunning.

The book is divided in two parts. I’d call the first the “American” part and the second the “Old World” part.

Part I

Lizzie’s Tiger is the second Lizzie Borden story she wrote. It shows us a young fearless Lizzie who discovers the magical world of a circus and a tiger who’s living in it. It’s as much an allusion to Blake’s famous poem as it is an imagination of a time when Lizzie was still small and had options to become someone else.

John Ford’s ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore is a pretty tongue-in-cheek and cheeky piece. What if the film director John Ford made British playwright John Ford’s drama ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore into a movie? Well – read her story and you’ll find out what that would be like.

Gun for the Devil is another Western type story set near the Mexican border. Johnny get’s a gun and frees a girl. Sort of. The story contains an allusion to the movie Johnny Got His Gun.

The Merchant of Shadows is my favourite story in the book and has become one of my all-time favourites. A story of decay, exuberance, mystery, set in a decadent Hollywood setting, reminiscent of Sunset Boulevard (one of my favourite movies btw). A young academic comes to interview the widow of the famous film director von Mannheim (he seems inspired by von Sternheim). His widow was once a femme fatale but now she’s in a wheelchair, living with her sister who looks like a cowboy.

Here are is a sample of this deliciously lush and weird story, which contains a lot of Angela Carter’s magic, including metafiction, allusions, cultural references and a lot more:

A flight of rough-cut stone steps led up to a pool surrounded by clumps of sweet-smelling weeds; I recognised lavender. A tree or two dropped late summer leaves on scummy water and, when I saw that pool, I couldn’t help it, I started to shiver; I’ll tell you why in a minute. That untended pool, in which a pair of dark glasses with one cracked lense rested on an emerald carpet of algae, along with an empty gin bottle.

On the terrace a couple of rusty, white-enamelled chairs, a lopsided table. Then, fringed  by a clump of cryptomeria, the house von Mannheim caused to be erected for his bride.

That house made the Bauhaus look baroque. An austere cube of pure glass, it exhibited the geometry of transparency at its most severe. Yet, just at that moment, it took all the red light of the setting sun into itself and flashed like a ruby slipper. I knew the wall of the vast glittering lounge gaped open to admit me, and only me, but I thought, well, if nobody has any objections, I’ll just stick around on the terrace for a while, keep well away from that glass box that looks like nothing so much as the coffin for a classical modernist Snow White; let the lady come out to me.

No sound but the deep, distant bass of the sea; a gull or two; pines, hushing one another.

So I waited. And waited. And I found myself wondering just what it was the scent of jasmine reminded me of, in order to take my mind off what I knew damn well the swimming pool reminded me off – Sunset Boulevard, of course. And I knew damn well, of course I knew, that this was indeed the very pool in which my man Hank Mann succumbed back in 1940, so very long ago, when not even I nor my blessed mother, yet, was around to so much as piss upon the floor.

I waited until I found myself growing impatient. How does one invoke the Spirit of Cinema? Burn a little offering of popcorn and old fan magazines? Offer a libation of Jeyes’ Fluid mixed with Kia Ora orange?

This passage shows something else that strikes me every time when I read Angela Carter – how she is at the same time irreverent and full of admiration for her themes.

I liked the stories in part II a little less.

The Ghost Ships – A Chritsmas Story, I didn’t really get it but it had a few great moments. This opening for example:

‘Twas the night before Christmas. Silent night, holy night. The snow lay deep and crisp and even. Etc. etc. etc.; let these familiar words conjure up the traditional anticipatory magic of Christmas Eve, and then – forget it.

Then In Pantoland – a parody of the way fairy tales have become a pure commodity, robbed of their deeper meaning and sometimes violent aspects due to the way Disney has used them.

Ashputtle or The Mother’s Ghost contains three ways to deconstruct Ashputtle. Very different from Disnye’s Cinderalla.

Alice in Prague or The Curious Room is an homage to a Czech filmmaker. It combines Dr Dee and Alice in Wonderland. Edward Kelly is called Ned Kelly. I didn’t really understand what this figure of Australian history got to do in this text. I really love this passage:

Night was. Widow Night, an old woman in mourning, with big, black wings, came beating against the window; they kept her out with lamps and candles.

Impressions: The Wrightmans Magdalene is the reimagining of the story of Mary Magdalene. It references two artists’ representation: Georges de La Tour’s Mary Magdalene and Donatello’s Mary Magdalene. One a painting, the other a sculpture.

This collection was a wild ride, at times challenging, but mostly really captivating and enchanting.

This is the second review for Angela Carter week, co-hosted with Delia (Postcards from Asia).

PLEASE ADD YOUR OWN REVIEWS TO THE MR LINKY HERE

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Angela Carter: The Magic Toyshop (1967)

The Magic Toyshop

I’m often tempted to skip the summary when reviewing a book, because, most of the time, the story as such doesn’t tell you a lot about a book. This is especially true in the case of Angela Carter. Her second novel The Magic Toyshop is no exception. It tells the story of a young girl, 15 year-old Melanie, who loses her parents the day after exploring the nightly parental garden in her mother’s wedding dress. She and her two siblings are then sent to her maternal Uncle Philip, a toy maker. At her uncle’s house she meets her Aunt Margaret and her aunt’s two brothers Finn and Francie. One is a painter, the other one a fiddler. It’s a very strange household. Creepy, joyless and fearful when her uncle is around; excentric and exuberant when he’s out. There’s a strange attraction between Finn and Melanie and one night, in the ruin of a magical garden, he kisses her. Melanie is confused by this because she doesn’t really fancy Finn. Additionally they have to hide their attraction because their uncle hates affection and emotions; he only lives for and through his toys and puppets. The grand finale is set in motion when Melanie has to play Leda in a cruel version of Leda and the Swan. Finn not only refuses to play along, but he takes revenge. Will the inhabitants of the sinister uncle’s house be able to free themselves or will they continue to be puppets in his hands?

A summary like this doesn’t tell you anything about the lush richness of the writing or what it feels like to enter an Angela Carter novel. Reading The Magic Toyshop is like entering an antiques shop or a shop with vintage clothes. You move from one beautiful garment to the next, from one arresting object to the following, only instead of objects and clothes you find sentences and images, allusions to fairy tales and myths, all woven into a shimmering tapestry. I felt like walking around in a stuffy room; in one corner I saw Bluebeard, in the next Red Riding Hood, and, over there, in a corridor, I spotted Dickens. Uncle Philip is like Bluebeard but he’s also a counter piece to the many bad stepmothers in fairy tales. He decidedly plays the role of a very bad step-father.  He’s an illustration of Carter’s play with gender clichés and tropes. Why does it always have to be the step mother who is vicious and vitriolic? In The Magic Toyshop the older women are positive, maternal figures. The older man is wicked and the younger are dreamy and wild.

The amazing thing in Carter’s writing is, that in spite of its complexity, it is very accessible and even entertaining. You can read The Magic Toyshop without being aware of the subtext, the allusions and references and still enjoy it. But, of course, she’s an author who makes you want to pick up books on her writing. It makes it so much richer, when you know what she is referring to or what she deconstructs.

Before I end this somewhat disjointed review (we have a heat wave currently and it’s hard to concentrate) I’d like to mention two more elements and maybe someone else can tell me how to interpret them:

Dirt – Dirt plays an important role in this novel. Melanie comes from a rich, elegant environment and everyone is clean at all times. Not so in Uncle Philip’s household where it’s hard to find warm water or soap and the people and their clothes are filthy. I remember from other stories that dirt is important but I’m not sure what meaning it has.

Incest – There’s open incest and incestuous moments in the novel. This is also a recurring theme.

The Magic Toyshop has been made into a movie which you can watch on YouTube. Angela Carter was fascinated by cinema and has twice contributed to the scripts of her own stories. This may be one of the reasons why anyone can enjoy her work – it’s always very visual.

This is my first review for Angela Carter week, co-hosted with Delia (Postcards from Asia).

PLEASE ADD YOUR OWN REVIEWS TO THE MR LINKY HERE

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Welcome to Angela Carter Week

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Today marks the beginning of Angela Carter Week.  We have over twenty people who would like to participate. I saw quite a few intro posts, links and announcements. Thanks everyone for that. I’m really thrilled to see so much enthusiasm.

Delia has made a list of the participants and I’ve added everyone to my bloglovin account – still, it’s possible we might not see every contribution, therefore we’d be glad if you could use the Linky below.

It’s not as sophisticated as a blogspot Linky but it does work. You just have to click on the widget to see all the entries.

I’ll be visiting and posting all through the week. Next Sunday we’ll wrap up and hopefully we’ll be able to share a list with all the links.

I wish all the participants a great Angela Carter Week!

Angela Carter Week 8 – 15 June 2014

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I’ve been a fan of Angela Carter’s work since I discovered her as a teenager. She’s one of those rare writers and academics who are good at every genre they try. Novels, short stories, essays, plays, film scripts. And her prose is one of those I admire the most. I don’t know any other writer with such an astonishingly rich vocabulary, that is both exquisite and evocative.

I always wanted to host an Angela Carter Week but I was looking for the right moment and co-host. When I saw that Delia was planning on reading Carter’s fairy tale retellings The Bloody Chamber for Carl’s Once Upon a Time Challenge, I knew the moment had come. After all, Delia (Postcards from Asia) and I had hosted Dickens in December and it was great fun. Seeing that she was planning on reading Angela Carter was the final nudge I needed. Luckily, Delia was in and she designed two gorgeous badges.

Here are the details:

  • The event runs from June 8 – 15 2014.
  • You can read absolutely anything you like. One short story or essay, a book she has edited, a novel, a radio play. Anything goes. You could equally read books or essays about her.
  • You can choose any of the two badges for your posts or side bar.
  • You can join any time. As early as now, as late as June 15. If you’ve written a post, please leave a comment in the comment section.

Angela Carter was not only versatile but her writing proves how lucid, highly creative and intellectual she was.  And provocative. She didn’t shy away from any topic, – be it sexuality, pornography, violence, torture, schizophrenia  –  or from any trope. She had a very unique esthetic; motives and themes like the circus, cabaret, artificial people, toys and angels are recurring. But she was also interested in cultural change, gender and various movements. Some of her books are exploring the culture and philosophy of the 60s.

Here are a few books you can choose from, (including the blurbs). There are many, many more.

Novels

Heroes and Villains

Heroes and Villains

I’ve read a lot of Angela Carter’s short stories and some of her novels. The novel I liked by far the most was the critically acclaimed Heroes and Villains.

A modern fable, a post-apocalyptic romance, a gothic horror story; Angela Carter’s genre-defying fantasia Heroes and Villains includes an introduction by Robert Coover in Penguin Modern Classics.

Sharp-eyed Marianne lives in a white tower made of steel and concrete with her father and the other Professors. Outside, where the land is thickly wooded and wild beasts roam, live the Barbarians, who raid and pillage in order to survive. Marianne is strictly forbidden to leave her civilized world but, fascinated by these savage outsiders, decides to escape. There, beyond the wire fences, she will discover a decaying paradise, encounter the tattooed Barbarian boy Jewel and go beyond the darkest limits of her imagination. Playful, sensuous, violent and gripping,Heroes and Villains is an ambiguous and deliriously rich blend of post-apocalyptic fiction, gothic fantasy, literary allusion and twisted romance.

Magic Toyshop

The Magic Toyshop

This crazy world whirled around her, men and women dwarfed by toys and puppets, where even the birds are mechanical and the few human figures went masked… She was in the night once again, and the doll was herself.’ Melanie walks in the midnight garden, wearing her mother’s wedding dress; naked she climbs the apple tree in the black of the moon. Omens of disaster, swiftly following, transport Melanie from rural comfort to London, to the Magic Toyshop. To the red-haired, dancing Finn, the gentle Francie, dumb Aunt Margaret and Uncle Phillip. Francie plays curious night music, Finn kisses fifteen-year-old Melanie in the mysterious ruins of the pleasure gardens. Brooding over all is Uncle Philip: Uncle Philip, with blank eyes the colour of wet newspaper, making puppets the size of men, and clockwork roses. He loves his magic puppets, but hates the love of man for woman, boy for girl, brother for sister…

Nights at the Circus

Nights at the Circus

Is Sophie Fevvers, toast of Europe’s capitals, part swan…or all fake? Courted by the Prince of Wales and painted by Toulouse-Lautrec, she is an aerialiste extraordinaire and star of Colonel Kearney’s circus. She is also part woman, part swan. Jack Walser, an American journalist, is on a quest to discover the truth behind her identity. Dazzled by his love for her, and desperate for the scoop of a lifetime, Walser has no choice but to join the circus on its magical tour through turn-of-the-nineteenth-century London, St Petersburg and Siberia.

TheInfernalDesireMachinesOfDoctorHoffman

The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman

Desiderio, an employee of the city under a bizarre reality attack from Doctor Hoffman’s mysterious machines, has fallen in love with Albertina, the Doctor’s daughter. But Albertina, a beautiful woman made of glass, seems only to appear to him in his dreams. Meeting on his adventures a host of cannibals, centaurs and acrobats, Desiderio must battle against unreality and the warping of time and space to be with her, as the Doctor reduces Desiderio’s city to a chaotic state of emergency – one ridden with madness, crime and sexual excess.

A satirical tale of magic and sex, The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman is a dazzling quest for truth, love and identity.

Several Perceptions

Several Perceptions

Centre stage in Angela Carter’s unruly tale of the Flower Power Generation is Joseph – a decadent, disorientated rebel without a cause. A self-styled nihilist whose girlfriend has abandoned him, Joseph has decided to give up existing. But his concerned friends and neighbours have other plans.

In an effort to join in the spirit of protest which motivates his contemporaries, Joseph frees a badger from the local zoo; sends a turd airmail to the President of the United States; falls in love with the mother of his best friend; and, accompanied by the strains of an old man’s violin, celebrates Christmas Eve in a bewildering state of sexual discovery. But has he found the Meaning of Life?

LOVE

Love

Love is Angela Carter’s fifth novel and was first published in 1971. With surgical precision it charts the destructive emotional war between a young woman, her husband and his disruptive brother as they move through a labyrinth of betrayal, alienation and lost connections. This revised edition has lost none of Angela Carter’s haunting power to evoke the ebb of the 1960s, and includes an afterword which describes the progress of the survivors into the anguish of middle age.

Short Stories

BLACK-VENUS

Black Venus

Extraordinary and diverse people inhabit this rich, ripe, occasionally raucous collection of short stories. Some are based on real people – Jeanne Duval, Baudelaire’s handsome and reluctant muse who never asked to be called the Black Venus, trapped in the terminal ennui of the poet’s passion, snatching at a little lifesaving respectability against all odds…Edgar Allen Poe, with his face of a actor, demonstrating in every thought and deed how right his friends were when they said ‘No man is safe who drinks before breakfast.’

And some of these people are totally imaginary. Such as the seventeenth century whore, transported to Virginia for thieving, who turns into a good woman in spite of herself among the Indians, who have nothing worth stealing. And a girl, suckled by wolves, strange and indifferent as nature, who will not tolerate returning to humanity.

Angela Carter wonderfully mingles history, fiction, invention, literary criticism, high drama and low comedy in a glorious collection of stories as full of contradictions and surprises as life itself.

American Ghosts

American Ghosts and New World Wonders

A collection of short stories which tear through the archives of cinema, of art and of the subconscious. A young Lizzie Borden visits the circus; a pianist makes a Faustian pact in a fly-blown Southern brothel; and a transfigured Mary Magdalene steps out of the canvases of Donatello and de la Tour.

The Bloody Chamber

The Bloody Chamber

From familiar fairy tales and legends – Red Riding Hood, Bluebeard, Puss in Boots, Beauty and the Beast, vampires and werewolves – Angela Carter has created an absorbing collection of dark, sensual, fantastic stories.

Books edited by Angela Carter

Book of Fairy Tales

Angela Carter’s Book of Fairy Tales

Once upon a time fairy tales weren’t meant just for children, and neither is Angela Carter’s Book of Fairy Tales. This stunning collection contains lyrical tales, bloody tales and hilariously funny and ripely bawdy stories from countries all around the world- from the Arctic to Asia – and no dippy princesses or soppy fairies. Instead, we have pretty maids and old crones; crafty women and bad girls; enchantresses and midwives; rascal aunts and odd sisters.

This fabulous celebration of strong minds, low cunning, black arts and dirty tricks could only have been collected by the unique and much-missed Angela Carter. Illustrated throughout with original woodcuts.

Essays and Criticism

The Sadeian Woman

The Sadeian Woman

‘Sexuality is power’ – so says the Marquis de Sade, philosopher and pornographer extraordinaire. His virtuous Justine keeps to the rules laid down by men, her reward rape and humiliation; his Juliette, Justine’s triumphantly monstrous antithesis, viciously exploits her sexuality. In a world where all tenderness is false, all beds are minefields. But now Sade has met his match. With invention and genius, Angela Carter takes on these outrageous figments of his extreme imagination, and transforms them into symbols of our time – the Hollywood sex goddesses, mothers and daughters, pornography, even the sacred shrines of sex and marriage lie devastatingly exposed before our eyes. Angela Carter delves into the viscera of our distorted sexuality and reveals a dazzling vision of love which admits neither of conqueror nor of conquered.

Expletives

Expletives Deleted

Angela Carter was one of the most important and influential writers of our time: a novelist of extraordinary power and a searching critic and essayist.This selection of her writing, which she made herself, covers more than a decade of her thought and ranges over a diversity of subjects giving a true measure of the wide focus of her interests: the brothers Grimm; William Burroughs; food writing, Elizbaeth David; British writing: American writing; sexuality, from Josephine Baker to the history of the corset; and appreciations of the work of Joyce and Christina Stead.

Radio Plays and Scripts

The Curious Room

 The Curious Room

This one is only available in kindle format.

The Vintage Collected Edition of Angela Carter’s works continues with THE CURIOUS ROOM, which contains her dramatic writings, including several previously unpublished plays and screenplays. THE CURIOUS ROOM includes a radio play about the demented Victorian painter and parricide Richard Dadd; reworkings of Puss in Boots and the Dracula story; a draft for an opera of Virginia Woolf’s ORLANDO, as well as the film scripts of THE MAGIC TOYSHOP and THE COMPANY OF WOLVES. Revealing many of the enthusiasms and concerns which ignited Carter’s fiction. THE CURIOUS ROOM is full of magnificent and startling new material, charged with the range and power of Carter’s imagination and inventiveness.

Essays on Angela Carter

Flesh and Mirror

Flesh and the Mirror 

Go out and get Carter. Get all her fiction, all her fact.’ Ali Smith

 This distinguished volume of essays commemorates the work of Angela Carter. Here her fellow writers, along with an impressive company of critics, disuss the novels, stories and polemics that make her one of the most spellbinding authors of her generation. They trace out the signs of her originality, her daring and her wicked wit, as well as her charm, to produce an indispensable companion to her texts.

 Contributors are: Guido Almansi, Isobel Armstrong, Margaret Atwood, Elaine Jordan, Ros Kaveney, Hermione Lee, Laura Mulvey, Marc O’Day, Sue Roe, Susan Rubin Suleiman, Nicole Ward Jouve, Marina Warner and Kate Webb.

 

A list with more titles and further details can be found on Delia’s blog here.

I hope that you will join Delia and me in celebrating this unique writer.

I’m looking forward to rediscover a favourite writer. I might read her novel Love, a radio play and hopefully some short stories.

Will you join us? Which books or stories will you read?

Angela Carter Week

The Company of Wolves, Bloodmantle and other Retellings of The Little Red Riding Hood

The Trials and Tribulations of Little Red Riding Hood: Versions of the Tale in Sociocultural Context

My first contribution to the Once Upon a Time Challenge V was the novel Red Riding Hood based on the movie. As you can read here I wasn’t too impressed with it.

Meanwhile I’ve seen the movie as well. It’s a visual treat, I enjoyed it but it isn’t as good as The Company of Wolves which is much more mysterious.

The Brother Grimm tale, The Little Red Riding Hood has fascinated people since forever. The dense forest, the wolf, the red cloak are such powerful images. It is certainly one o the  fairy tales with the most retellings.

There is a nice collection by Jack Zipes called The Trials and Tribulations of Little Red Riding Hood. It contains a huge range starting with the tale by Charles Perrault to more contemporary versions like the  Angela Carter’s The Company of Wolves. Carters story can also be found in her collection of fairytale retellings The Bloody Chamber. There are actually two versions in it. A very short sketch and one that is a bit longer.

I read Zipes book a few years ago and was impressed by how many different versions there are but there was none that I really liked. The Company of Wolves as a story is less convincing than the movie based on it. And there are other retellings in The Bloody Chamber that I liked much more.

The one re-telling that really impressed me is Tanith Lee’s Bloodmantle from her collection Forests of the Night. It can also be found in Wild Women. Tanith Lee’s stories can serve as proof that there is more to fantasy than meets the eye. If there is one writer who is capable of writing literary fantasy it is certainly Tanith Lee. Her writing is poetical, imaginative and very original. Here is what she says about Bloodmantle.

The forests of the mind are benighted, dark and dazzling places. Things wander there that shine, and burn, and bite.

Much of my writing, long and short, begins with nothing more – or less – than a feeling. The nearest I can come to describing this is to relate it to those curious unremembered memories, triggered maybe by a scent, or a certain seasonal light. Bloodmantle started in just that way, a sensation. Then quickly followed the notion of Roman Lupercal as a werewolf-finding feast. Wolves are creatures that live most definitely in my mind forests. I meet them with the primitive and often irrational wolf-fear, but also in fascinated love.

The girl in th red cloak of course most of us know. Innocence can be cruel.

In Bloodmantle the woman or girl isn’t only a victim. The roles change and there is potential to do harm in both, the man and the woman. The story isn’t very long but rich and multilayered, with a story inside of the story, a tale transmitted from days long gone, and a part that takes place in our contemporary world. The wolf is as much perpetrator as prey, half man, half animal and also ghost.

A very artful picture book Little Red Riding Hood illustrated by Daniel Egnéus came out this year. I discovered it during the Once Upon a Time Challenge. Here is Chris’ review  that contains some of the truly wonderful pictures.

You can also find something about Daniel Egnéus here

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