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Halloween re read Angela Carter is an absolute masterful writer She takes the basic narrative of fairy tales and infuses them will blood death and horror She s a genius at what she doesShe s a great story teller She transports the stories to the confines of modern society and considers real issues such as the representation of women the limitations of gender and the restrictions of stories themselvesHer prose is captivating near on enchanting As soon as I began reading the first story in here I was hooked on her style She reminds me of Margaret Attwood The two have a way of presenting such issues in a remarkably frank way and better et the stories themselves the actual plot rather than the allegories are immensely entertaining This is the kind of literature I love a suspense filled vessel of storytelling that is full of dark meanings She s a drastic An extraordinarily sensual symbol rich collection of very adult tales of enchantment focusing on female protagonists Some are dirtier versions of the familiar some are barely recognisable beyond title and names and a couple were unknown to me The Lyon and Tiger stories are variants of each other and it ends with three relating to wolves two of which are versions of Little Red Riding HoodThere is blood in the title and there are many allusions to literal and metaphorical blood mainly in relation to sacrificial virgins puberty menstruation sex and flowers sometimes both as a deflowered bride ponders The lilies I always associate with him that are white And stain The Way of Wizardry (Dragon Warriors RPG you Power and betrayal are also major themes aided by the delusion of disguise different skins and shedding thereof and hence loss of inhibitions and innocence Love often euates to death of some kind It s a feast for all the senses though it doesn t always leave a pleasant taste However Carter is a feminist at heart and this is reflected in many of the tales having female narrators along with the way she twists and subverts the reader s expectationsThe Bloody ChamberThe longest story is that of Bluebeard which was a partial inspiration for Jane Eyre see my review HERE but here is set in modernish times A much married man takes a newoung innocent wife She leaves her mother and goes Into marriage into exile despite some sinister signs dead or missing wives The Bellringers Bedside Companion yet his waxen face was not lined by experience her mother s concerns and her own euivocation when asked if she loves him she says I m sure I want to marry him Her father had died leaving a legacy of tears that never uite dried and she is seduced by an opal ring that may be cursed I sensed in myself a potentiality for corruption and evidently he does too The bedroom scene is disturbing but not in a graphic way as is his porn collection which features disturbinglyouthful subjects He wants to flood the bedroom with light all the better to see ou echoing two versions of Little Red Riding Hood later in the bookHe goes away leaving her in charge of the household including all the keys She is instructed to indulge herself as she likes in this lovely prison of which I was both the inmate and the mistress with a single exception she must never enter the room where he occasionally goes to savour the rare pleasure of imagining myself wifeless Of course the temptation is enormous view spoilershe looks finds the bodies of previous wives surrounded by lilies and then can t wash the incriminating blood off the key I had been tricked into my own betrayal His face contained a sombre delirium guilty joy as he slowly ascertained how I had sinned hide spoiler Exuisite His touch both consoles and devastates me I feel my heart pulse then wither naked as a stone on the roaring mattress while the lovely moony night slides through the window to dapple the flanks of this innocent who makes cages to keep the sweet birds in Eat me drink me thirsty cankered goblin ridden I go back and back to him to have his fingers strip the tattered skin away and clothe me in his dress of water this garment that drenches me its slithering odour its capacity for drowning My father lost me to The Beast at cards A recent discussion with Konstantin one of my best friends in Goodreads prompted me to read this collection a little sooner than I had planned And it was an utterly fascinating experience I knew I was going to love it and expectations were justifiably high 10 exceptional short stories paying homage to classic tales and especially to Charles Perrault From Bluebeard and The Beauty and the Beast to Puss in Boots and The Snow Child written in a uniue sensual dark language The Bloody Chamber In my opinion the jewel of the collection This is a story based on Bluebeard one of my favourite fairy tales because I m weird and I like it Seriously though this is a beautiful showcase of Carter s immense talent She inserts elements from the dawning of Gothic Fiction and crafts a perfect story The legend of Dracula Carmilla the Iron Maiden As a oung woman who finds herself amidst the journey of marriage to a strange count discovers sexual liberation perversion and death I loved the language in this one full of underlying sensuality and the blurred line between pleasure and despair The Courtship of Mr Lyon A story based on Beauty and the Beast Carter kept the most well known features of the tale intact Sometimes the best retellings are the ones that stay close to the original source and this was definitely the case here The Tiger s Bride The second story based on Beauty and the Beast A Make Ink: A Foragers Guide to Natural Inkmaking young woman of aristocratic origin travels from Russia to Italy The Beast becomes a tiger in a tale full of weird twists that make the ending shocking and powerful Carter shows that findingour identity is essential for both sexes and the descriptions are poetic and vivid A story of winter and spring Puss in Boots A tale based on the story by Giovanni Francesco Straparola Puss in Boots had never been among my favourite fairy tales but Carter manages to combine it with Rossini s Il Barbiere di Siviglia and Figaro is turned into a genius cynic and all around spectacular feline An entertaining story that reads like a true opera buffa The Erl King Reminiscent of Goethe the Grimm brothers and the legend of the King of Fairies in Scandinavian folklore The tale starts with a beautiful description of an autumnal forest haunting and colourful full of smells and visions It is the most sexually charged tale of the collection with beautiful erotic descriptions and a constant battle between innocence and awareness Love isn t a blinding force in this story The maiden doesn t saintly surrender to her fate She changes it and prevails The Snow Child There are many versions of this fairy tale Carter chooses the most shocking violent dark variant a twisted vision of a tormented Snow White It is a short tale that strikes at the heart with its dark themes of necrophilia abuse and lethal jealousy The Lady of the House of Love A girl who is both death and the maiden Carter combines the tale of The Sleeping Beauty the legend of Elizabeth Bathory and the tale of Dracula to create a story set in the Carpathian region during the turn of the previous century that is nothing short of a masterpiece The Werewolf It makes me sad that in our current times books of dubious to put it mildly uality have transformed such haunting and fascinating creatures into a fad of a horrible pop culture Thankfully writers like Carter do not refuse them the position that centuries of lore have granted to these tortured creatures of the night A tale based on Little Red Riding Hood enriched with have granted to these tortured creatures of the night A tale based on Little Red Riding Hood enriched with from Walpurgisnacht and with an interesting heroine of dubious motives The Company of Wolves The wolfsong is the sound of the rending Clandestino: In Search of Manu Chao you will suffer in itself a murdering A second story based on Little Red Riding Hood The wolf is the protagonist The beauty the agility the danger Carter makes use of the legends and fables about the werewolf juxtaposed with the innocence of the children and the allure of the forbidden A story that is open to many interpretations Wolf Alice This is the third story based on Little Red Riding Hood and the one fully demonstrating society s obsession to have us all the same denying us the right to be what we want to be Aoung woman defies religious and social rules and discovers that compassion and companionship are sometimes waiting where we least expect themThe stories are rich in visual scenes faithful to the spirit of their original sources and composed of themes that are difficult and demanding Carter speaks of female emancipation sexual liberation the heavy chains of patriarchy an. From familiar fairy tales and legends Red Riding Hood Bluebeard Puss in Boots Beauty and the Beast vampires werewolves Angela Carter has create. ,

The Bloody Chamber Other Stories

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D society s expectations of women Carter defies the stereotypes and clearly demonstrates the desire for the identity of the heroine who saves herself instead of waiting for the Knight Even when she falters it s by her own choice and she accepts the conseuences What are the canonical fairy tales in any case Didactic parables of the notion that transgressions turn people into monsters Anything that doesn t meet the common expectations of appearance and behavior is considered demonic But we as women don t need to read tales to discover there are monsters in the world We ve seen them We have been facing them for centuries We still fight against them We always willIt is my sincerest conviction that fairy tales especially retellings such as these can reveal about the human nature than any serious novel or philosophical work Carter s tales couldn t have been meaningful relevant to our current times mirroring issues that concern us constantly That is if we are willing to look deeper and search for them These tales are written in beautiful language but this is merely a technical issue What matters is what they try to tell us and show us This is beyond labels such as Horror or Gothic or Literary Fiction It is about ourselves and our identities The lamb must learn to run with the tigers My reviews can also be found on Hey there Little Red Riding HoodYou sure are looking goodYou re everything a big bad wolf could wantListen to meI don t think little big girls shouldGo walking in these spooky old woods alone Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs 1962In The Bloody Chamber Angela Carter s uses a decidedly feminist slant to re tell familiar myths and stories The Company of Wolves for example provides a point by point rebuttal of the myths embedded in the modern versions of Little Red Riding Hood Interestingly the earliest versions of the fairy tale were primarily oral and far risu These versions included sexual elements such as the wolf actually a werewolf in the oldest versions telling Red Riding Hood to throw her clothes one by one into a fire Leeming and Sader 391 Further in these early versions Red Riding Hood tricks the wolf by pretending that she needs to go outside to relieve herself Once outside Red Riding Hood uickly removes the rope attached to her ties it to a tree and escapes Bushi In these original versions Red Riding Hood outwits the fox and the sexual overtones are explicit By the time Charles Perrault wrote his version in 1697 the story had been sanitized into a lesson on Thin Air (Jessica Shaw, young girls morality In Perrault s version the story serves to warnoung girls about the threat men pose to their sexual innocence but does not include the mother s warning to stay on the path that appears in most later versions such as that of Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm in 1812 Instead Perrault ends his tale with an overt moral warning Young ladies in particular well bred and attractive A Fine Mouse Band young ladies should not be beguiled by men s wolfish charm 3 Jacob and Wilhelm Grimms version originally called Little Red Cap far familiar to American and English audiences than that of Perrault casts Little Red Riding Hood as aounger girl ie even vulnerable and begins with the famous warning Walk nicely and uietly and do not run off the path Predictably Little Red Riding Hood forgets her mother s warning strays off the path and gets deeper and deeper into the wood Once in the woods Little Red Riding Hood s troubles begin Ultimately a hunter who just happens to be passing by saves herOf most significance is the decided shift the fairy tale has undergone through time In the original versions Little Red Riding Hood saves herself and is never gulled by the wolf In versions dating from the seventeenth century onward the girl strays from the path actually believes the wolf might really be granny and is saved by a huntsman Further in the Grimms version and its modern variations Red Riding Hood s comment at the end of the story demonstrates that she has learned her lesson As long as I live I will never by myself leave the path to run into the wood when my mother has forbidden me to do so However the fairy tale s other messages to oung women are embedded and destructive We are easily distracted and disobedient we are not safe alone in the woods traveling off the beaten path we are fairly stupid we get ourselves in trouble and we need to be rescued by a man In Contrast Angela Carter S Short Story The Company Of Wolves Angela Carter s short story The Company of Wolves the TALE S ORIGINAL ELEMENTS SUCH AS s original elements such as overt sexuality and a heroine who is resourceful rather than helpless but adds a feminist perspective Carter s heroine is strong minded packs a carving knife in her basket of goodies and is powerful because of her virginity She stands and moves within the invisible pentacle of her own virginity She is an unbroken egg she is a sealed vessel she has inside her a magic spaceshe is a closed system she does not know how to shiver She has her knife and she is afraid of nothing Further in Carter s version Red Riding Hood does not just protect herself but controls the game The seduction scene plays out like a modern slasher movie As the girl at the wolf s bidding removes each item of clothing and ostensibly becomes and vulnerable we begin to see her as a victim Just as we become lulled by the predictable script in motion the girl now completely naked responds to the wolf s threat All the better to eat ou with by bursting into laughter She knew she was nobody s meat Even given the background Carter provides in the story s beginning the scene startles We knew the girl was strong independent and armed However the pattern of woman alone traveling alone helpless alone victim is so embedded in our consciousness However the pattern of woman alone traveling alone helpless alone victim is so embedded in our consciousness we are caught off guard And that is precisely Carter s point Adapted from a prior publication What an excellent bundle of stories bringing it all back home fairytales and folklore wise stripped of their deceptive pop culture whitewash all blood splattered and primal and sensual and lady teachy I don t know which rose pricked me deeper the blood countess stricken with sudden self sacrificial hideousness in the eternal sleep of light of day at finding a pure deserving specimen of love dropped off to sleep over the cards of destiny that are so fingered so soiled so worn by constant shuffling that ou can no longer make the image out on any single one of them the image of the haggard et severe mother riding up all floppy hat and sagely wild gray hairs pistol drawn to pierce the not Bluebeard not Gilles de Rais who cleverly keeps a copy of La Bas right next to the snuff photography in his bedchamber because meta fic just before he dares attempt to behead her darling too curious daughter an image which anyone with as fierce protective supportive and profoundly independent a mamabear as mine can relate to ad infinitum the girl who became the tiger for the tiger full acceptance literally stripped bare to reveal her anything everything Beautiful bombastic prose reclaiming these shadows of childhood for what they were intended to be lessons about what s to come in burgeoning adulthood subconscious fears embraced the ways of the ugly world and its horrid beauty What a mind Don t feed our children Disney feed them this Well except for WD s Robin Hood that movie is amazing Angela Carter reveals the dark heart of the fairy story in these memorably uirky versions She is able to intensify the mythic core of each of these tales not by stripping them down to their essentials the obvious way but by using eccentric illuminative detail expressed in individualistic prose Although these versions could be described as feminist and anti patriarchal such labels are too limiting for the fierce independence of Carter s intelligence She is a writer who never shrinks from acknowledging the transformative power of sexual passion even if the object of that passion be unworthy or evil even if the passion itself be dark and destructive It is her frankness her clarity and her art not the adherence to any philosophical position that make these tales so liberating so powerful such flawless examples of craftsmanship and style SpoilersI had high expectations for this Carter s fairy tale retellings are meant to be well known for being feminist gothic and original For the most part I didn t feel that was true Having a few heroines with sexual agency didn t magically make them feminist or ground breaking it takes a lot than that to modernise a fairy tale There were only a couple of them that I actually found somewhat enjoyable the rest were rubbishHated the writing it was convoluted complicated and. D an absorbing collection of dark sensual fantastic storiesContentsThe Bloody Chamber 1979The Courtship of Mr Lyon 1979The Tiger's Bride 1979Pu.
Nonsensical There were a number of times I got lost as to what the hell was going on and had to keep re reading sentences over and over to get some clarity Also some sentences read like paragraphs than sentences they never bloody ended The storiesTHE BLOODY CHAMBERuite liked this but mostly because of the ending where the heroine s mum kills Bluebeard and saves her daughter from death Other than that it was a paint by numbers retelling of Bluebeard THE COURTSHIP OF MR LYON So predictable and cheesy It was a run of the mill Beauty and the Beast retelling complete with flat characters insta love and zero depth THE TIGER S BRIDE Another Beauty and the Beast retelling This time Beauty ends up with the Beast because her dad gambles her off like property At the end Beauty turns herself into a beast too so she can be with a guy who forced her to live with him just so he could see her naked UghPUSS IN BOOTS A shallow manslut gets his cat Puss to hook him up with the rich beautiful virgin he fell in insta love with after seeing her just the once Puss does so and man gets to shag said virgin who also happens to be married Puss and the man kill the husband and get to settle down with their virginal women after ears of shagging around Yea it was just a tropey mess and the female characters were rubbish THE ERL KING Only liked the very end of this when the foolish love struck heroine plots to save herself and kill the Erl king everything else was weird and rubbish THE SNOW CHILD The worst story of the lot a married Count wishes for a girl as white as snow red as blood and black as raven His wish comes true but his wife is jealous of the magic girl and tries to kill her instead of helping her girl gets killed by a rose and husband rapes her dead body And the wife seems to be cool with her husband raping dead bodies Ugh hated itTHE LADY OF THE HOUSE OF LOVE This was the most interesting of all the stories Liked the gothic undertones and how atmospheric it was But it read like a paranormal vampire story than a fairy tale THE WEREWOLF I didn t like the girl in this happily causing her werewolf granny s death just so she could inherit her house Where s the feminism in thatTHE COMPANY OF WOLVES Another story with a girl causing her grandma s death this time so she can sex up a werewolf guy Ugh what s with all these female characters being killed by other female characters and dying in horrible waysWOLF ALICEWeird Girl thinks she s a wolf then kind of realises she s not and then she thinks she s a wolf again Yea didn t like itThere were only two stories The Bloody Chamber and The Lady of the House of Love in the collection that I somewhat enjoyed The rest were disappointing they were either predictable or tropey or plain weird and not in a good way Also apart from The Bloody Chamber I didn t find any of the retellings to be feminist in any way I don t know why they ve been praised for their feminism when there was actually very little feminism in them if anything they were sexist what with most of the female characters actions being controlledinfluenced by men in some way or another Also the writing was rubbish A collection of stories based off of fairy tales I found this the other day cleaning out by books and I realized I never read it I think it may have been for a class I dropped and I guess I had already bought the books It was a pretty short read about 126 pages so I read it in between doing other work today when taking a break I really enjoyed the writing style and I think the first story the one the book is named after was the best one by far Some of the other ones were weaker especially the ones that were shorter I think this book is much better reading for it s turns of phrases and writing style than if ou re looking for engagement with plot especially since the stories are shorter The book would ve gotten a three if it was just about it s ability to engage me but I bumped it up to four because I love poetic vivid prose After the rigorous pounding that I got while reading The Infernal Desire Machines of Dr Hoffman I certainly wasn t expecting this almost diffident collection of short storiesReading the whole collection the sense of Carter s craft is very strong emphasised by having stories like The Courtship of Mr Lyon and The Tiger s Bride which are variants of the same folktale or the repetition of the same elements such as the magical power of virginity in Lady of the House of Love and The Company of Wolves although I did wonder what happen subseuently once the hymen was no longer there It is easy to imagine Carter at her work bench loosening her vice critically admiring a piece of finished work before putting it to one side and deciding to do the whole thing again just twisting it slightly or taking something apart and recombining the elements in a slightly different wayBut I did not have the sense of a writer pushing me towards the limits of my endurance striking At Me With A Rationality That Was Barbed With Calculation me with a rationality that was barbed with calculation with her considered intellect These stories were relaxed for all their sexuality The teapot perched on her workbench for sure had a little crocheted cosy to keep it snugly warm the collection broadly speaking was safer than I expected from the aforementioned novel As one often has cause to remark it is funny the difference that the absence of giant pan sexual tattooed rapist centaurs makes to a writer s workThe sexual content seemed admittedly less radical to me than maybe it did at time of publication I think perhaps I am wrong that we are generally far aware that the sexually explicit content in popular stories was edited out to create our modern fairy tales by the brothers Grimm among others in the nineteenth century while they retained the the violence at least the non sexual violence Carter to my mind is simply returning to the original potentialities of this kind of story Perhaps they weren t necessarily told in uite as an explicit a manner As Here Possibly Just here possibly just a knowing leer or a wink but the potential for sexual readings was always thereThe title story The Bloody Chamber felt terribly long as the actress said to the Bishop and I read the overflowing champagne staining the bride to be s dress as a subtle symbol until I read the following paragraph which made it absolutely clear that subtle was a word that Carter had removed from her dictionary at least for as long as she was working on this story although having said that the narrator s reaction to the sense of her own ability to be sexually corrupt and decadent balanced nicely with her husband s fairly straightforward desire to murder his wives and there is a pleasure in reading a story in which the happy ending is a menage a trois between two women and their skilful fingered blind piano tuner The Lady of the House of Love played out a vampire story almost to the point of Count Duckula comedy with it s plucky Blond Beast of a hero doomed to die a different death while the last lines respectively of The Erl King and The Tiger s Bride struck me with their brilliance eerie and savage The Erl King all the so as he is based apparently on Carter s long term lover and eventual final husband Carter suggests that the transformative nature of a relationship can be such that ou can see it as a kind of death both horrifying sinister and alluring seized with open arms I am struck by how deeply she works over time on me at least and got under the skin with some very simple little stories without fireworks So much so that I hesitate to recommend herAs a set of stories it was a fairly mixed bag for me an easy train read but something that gives me a wider sense of Carter s ability as a creative writer To suggest that she may have been one of the strongest voices from the latter half of twentieth century British literature would be meaningful only if I was widely readAnyway I had taken myself for a walk today round the park I passed a prim old lady with a wiry dog no she said we won t go chasing suirrels today as she pulled on the dog s leash I was very taken by this and a little sad to have not been there on those days when she d fold down her umbrella put her knitted purple hat in her pocket and run with her wiry dog after suirrels and dance with anger at the foot of trees Perhaps that wasn t precisely what she meant But it reminded me both of the Lady who loved Animals and the rasp like tongue of our old cat who d lick porridge from my fingers until he learnt to help himself from my bowl view spoiler he was also partial to sour milk and raw dough he was an odd creature hide spoile. Ss in Boots 1979The Erlking 1977The Snow Child 1979The Lady of the House of Love 1975The Werewolf 1977The Company of Wolves 1977Wolf Alice 1978.