Sunday, 8 June 2014

Angela Carter Week Begins

I'm excited!

Caroline from Beauty Is A Sleeping Cat is co-hosting Angela Carter Week with
Delia from Postcards From Asia .

Caroline has a fabulous post (link above) highlighting all of Carter's books while Delia has a list of all the participants (link above). 
For me half the fun of a readalong is meeting new bloggers and becoming reacquainted with old favourites.

I have chosen to read The Bloody Chamber.

My edition has an Introduction by Helen Simpson that had me a little concerned. I learnt that Carter was always drawn to "Gothic tales, cruel tales, tales of wonder, tales of terror, fabulous narratives that deal directly with the imagery of the unconscious."

That she wrote The Bloody Chamber "not to do 'versions' or, as the American edition of the book said, horribly, 'adult' fairy tales, but to extract the latent content from the traditional stories to use it as the beginnings of new stories."

Carter admired "science fiction with its utopian perspectives and speculative thinking...found, the indirection and metaphor of fantasy can be helpful when airing controversial subject matter."

I wasn't surprised to hear of the influence of the Marquis de Sade, Baudelaire, Perrault and even Colette. But I was curiously surprised by an appearance of Isak Dinesen - I've always wanted to read and know more about Dinesen and here is another prompt to do so.

Simpson litters her Intro with phrases like "Carter was an abstract thinker with an intensely visual imagination."

"The Bloody Chamber is packed with signs, symbols and signifiers."

"passivity is not an intrinsically virtuous state."

"The heroines of these stories are struggling out of the strait-jackets of history and ideology and biological essentialism."

"full of cultural and intertextual references."

"The short story is not minimalist, it is rococo. I feel in absolute control. It is like writing chamber music rather then symphonies."

I was beginning to feel overwhelmed by this undertaking!

But this particular paragraph grabbed me and has left me gasping to get stuck in.

"'I do put everything in to be read - read the way allegory was intended to be read,' she declared; but also 'I've tried to keep an entertaining that you don't have to read them as a system of signification if you don't want to.' And it is true that you could ignore the ideas in these stories if you wanted to, and still enjoy the colour, beauty and vivid sensuousness of the language, the densely allusive prose alight with sly verbal jokes, cross-cultural references and dandified wit."


I won't need a post doctorate in literature to read Carter after all!

What will you be reading this week?


  1. What an informative post! I've never read Carter before; I'm not particularly drawn to tales of horror or gothic. Yet I loved her morals at the end of each tale in Bluebird, and I'm halfway through Nights at the Circus which is so imaginative. One of the lines from your post which really struck me is how passivity is not necessarily true.

  2. Anonymous9/6/14

    Thanks so much for sharing the intro and these quotes. I have an old UK edition without foreword or anthying.
    You can read her in different ways and there will always be surprises.

  3. Anonymous9/6/14

    I've read The Bloody Chamber a few weeks ago, but I'll have to browse through it again to write my review. I enjoyed the book, and I hope you will too.

  4. Not much of a horror reader, but I can see how readers would enjoy Carter's books.
    Book Dilettante

  5. I love horror but this book was disturbing even for me. The Snow Child I found particularly hard to like, the first part was great but the ending....


This blog has now moved to Wordpress.
Please visit This Reading Life to comment.

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.