Novelist Angela Carter escapes her name and any other you care to box her in with: ‘magical realism’, ‘surrealism’, ‘picaresque’… All these might apply but there comes a point when a label, even one made out of a her very own proper name becomes a reduction. So I use ‘Carteresque’ here (yes, it is in general use) in the way I’ve used Ballardian and Kafkaesque elsewhere… with due irony, under slight erasure and with a healthy dose of doubtfulness, because doubt is a doorway marked ‘unknown’. In making these images I’m not claiming a translation of her work, I’m claiming gratification: it’s the kind of pleasure that teases me out of time. Carter’s writing expresses a jouissance that leaves behind the constraints of narrative and abandons me in some other place, often dark, sometimes transgressive… The prose is rich, full of seductive colour, and the more you read the deeper you fall — as in become fallen — and joyfully so. My aim here is to express the simple, (and complex), pleasures of these texts. So did I succeed…? Do tell.
Short stories of Angela Carter
The Bloody Chamber
A heartening climax doesn’t distract from the dark and dubious fulfillments inside the space of the narrative. Untrammelled desire prowls unlit corridors — the sound of the whip echoes beyond a simple, happy ending.
The Courtship of Mr Lyon
A thorny, voluptuous sentimentality… for the love of Beast.
The Tiger’s Bride
Metamorphosis by tongue: a conclusion too sensuous, too full of flesh and fur to be actual words.
The dreamlike sensuality embedded within the stories of Angela Carter never excluded sharp edges… ‘He is the tender butcher who showed me how the price of flesh is love; skin the rabbit, he says! Off come all my clothes.’
The Lady of the House of Love
Delicious, guilty appetites — the taste of spilt blood was never so delectable, so tragic.
The Company of Wolves
Transgressions and transformations… human lust in wolf’s clothing.
Is she bound by polite society or her own feral ‘savagery’. The pleasure of the text lies in the space between restraints.
Carter delivers us to nineteenth century Paris in pursuit of Baudelaire and his lover Jeanne Duval… We find Flowers of Evil, and decomposing love…
Angela Carter Novels
‘I hurt, therefore I am.’ Carter’s first novel is dark and occasionally brutal, but dirty colours still manage to leak through gaps in the pain, a veiled suggestion of what is to come…
The Magic Toyshop
A tale of control and secret longing. The magic is not what you expect, but then neither is real life… Carter creates realism through the lens of strangeness shot through with desire and loss.
Nihilism and decadence disguised as rebellion… Sex is always an escape route, until it leaves town.
Heroes And Villains
Becoming barbarian; in a post-apocalyptic ‘paradise’ virtue is mutable.
Gothic romantic: a malfunctioning love triangle limps inexorably toward its tragic conclusion… Carter doesn’t just show us love’s wounds, she pulls them open and reaches inside.
The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman
A magnificent and carnivalesque adventure through time and space and eroticism.
The Passion Of New Eve
Metamorphosis, love and the knife; the most erotic redemption you’ll ever read…
Nights At The Circus
Fantastic beast or feathery fake..? In the circus of your mind, Fevvers can be both.
An irreverent trip down a debauched Memory Lane; recollection becomes a carnival of self. A jubilant and affirming farewell from a writer who passed way too soon. ‘What a joy it is to dance and sing!’
And here’s something Kafkaesque.