The Bloody Chamber and Other Storiesby Angela Carter Published 01 Jan 1990
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Angela Carter was a storytelling sorceress, the literary godmother of such contemporary masters of supernatural fiction as Neil Gaiman, David Mitchell, Audrey Niffenegger, J. K. Rowling, and Kelly Link, who introduces this edition of Carter's most celebrated book, published for the seventy-fifth anniversary of her birth.
In The Bloody Chamber - which includes the story that is the basis of Neil Jordan's 1984 movie The Company of Wolves - Carter spins subversively dark and sensual versions of familiar fairy tales and legends like "Little Red Riding Hood," "Bluebeard," "Puss in Boots," and "Beauty and the Beast," giving them exhilarating new life in a style steeped in the romantic trappings of the gothic tradition.
"The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories" Reviews
Angela Carter reveals the dark heart of the fairy story in these memorably quirky 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.
"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 my expectations were justifiably high. 10 exceptional short stories paying homage to classic fairy 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 unique, 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 young 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 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 finding your 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) quality 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 folklore from Walpurgisnacht and with an interesting heroine of dubious motives.
The Company of Wolves "The wolfsong is the sound of the rending 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. A young woman defies religious and social rules and discovers that compassion and companionship are sometimes waiting where we least expect them.
The 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 and 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 consequences. 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 will...
It is my sincerest conviction that fairy tales, especially retellings such as these, can reveal more about the human nature than any "serious" novel or philosophical work. Carter's tales couldn't have been more meaningful, more 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 https://theopinionatedreaderblog.word...
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 does.
She’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 themselves.
Her 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 yet 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 drastically under read writer when you consider her creative talent.
I couldn’t recommend her work more highly, especially today.
Τα πιο γνωστά μας παραμύθια,οι μύθοι που έχουν ταξιδέψει απο γενιά σε γενιά, οι θρύλοι και οι λαϊκές παραδόσεις ζωντανεύουν μέσα σε αυτό το βιβλίο με τη μορφή παρωδίας και σεξιστικής λαϊκής κουλτούρας.
Όλες οι ιστορίες των παιδικών μας χρόνων -σωστά ισχυρίζεται η συγγραφέας - εκφράζουν τις εκάστοτε κοινωνικές δομές και τις διαπροσωπικές σχέσεις με πρότυπο πάντα το κλισέ θύτης- θύμα.
Και είναι όλα καλά και όμορφα όταν τα παραμύθια ζωντανεύουν, οι μάγισσες καίγονται,οι βάτραχοι με τη δύναμη του φιλιού μεταμορφώνονται σε πρίγκιπες και οι καλοί πάντα στο τέλος ζουν ευτυχισμένα ενώ οι συνήθως πλούσιοι κακοί βουλιάζουν στην κόλαση της αιώνιας τιμωρίας και της ανυπαρξίας.
Εδώ βέβαια τα πράγματα περιπλέκονται σε σημείο να καταντούν ανόητα και άσκοπα.
Εκτός απο την «ματωμένη κάμαρα» που δίνει τον τίτλο σε αυτή τη συλλογή δέκα ιστοριών και που πραγματικά ήταν ατμοσφαιρική,σκοτεινή, με εξαιρετική γοτθική φύση και κλασική αξία σε αυτό το είδος, οι υπόλοιπες αφηγήσεις ακόμη ψάχνω να βρω τι ακριβώς εξυπηρετούσαν και στο βωμό ποιας λογοτεχνικής αξίας θυσιάζουν τον αναγνώστη!!
Παρελαύνουν μπροστά μας -με έξοχη βέβαια την ικανότητα χειρισμού της γλώσσας,άψογη ποιητική και λυρική περιγραφή-σε ενήλικη έκδοση και με πολύ έντονα τα στοιχεία της σεξουαλικότητας,διαφοροποιημένοι και ανισόρροποι με
Ο Λυκάνθρωπος που φεύγει την πρώτη νύχτα του γάμου του προφασιζόμενος σωματική ανάγκη και επιστρέφει πολλά χρόνια μετά να εκδικηθεί τη σύζυγο που δεν τον περίμενε να επιστρέψει απο την τουαλέτα 15 χρόνια αργότερα παρά είχε το θράσος να κάνει οικογένεια με άλλον άνδρα λιγότερο τριχωτό.
Η Κοκκινοσκουφίτσα που έχοντας μάγισσα γιαγιά και ατρόμητο χαρακτήρα μετά απο πολλές περιπλανήσεις και πονηριές ζευγαρώνει με τον «προικισμένο» λύκο και τους βρίσκει η αυγή μετά την πανσέληνο να ουρλιάζουν απο πόθο.
Η Χιονάτη πεθαίνει στη μέση του δρόμου απο άγνωστες αιτίες...και μεταλλαγμένο DNA αλλά ο υποτιθέμενος Δούκας πατέρας της αφού ικανοποιήσει το σεξουαλικό του κατάλοιπο στο πτώμα της Χιονάτης ( με εβένινα μαλλιά κάτασπρο δέρμα και ματωμένα χείλη)προσφέρει στη μητριά -που παρακολουθεί την ερωτική σκηνή- τον καρπό του έρωτα του, ένα λουλούδι ποτισμένο μάλλον με σπέρμα και λάσπη. Μετά απο αυτό,η μητριά φοράει τη γούνα της και επιστρέφουν στην τρυφηλή καθημερινότητα τους. (Έχει πετάξει πριν το λουλούδι μη και πεθάνει σαν τη Χιονάτη).
Ακολουθεί η ωραία και το τέρας και κάποιες άλλες μπερδεμένες ιστορίες με βαμπίρ και νεκροφάγους και με πάρα πολλές γάτες πονηρές και εκστασιασμένες. Παρέα μας και ο παπουτσωμένος γάτος.
Ουσία καμία. Νόημα ανισόρροπο και σε πολιτικό και προσωπικό επίπεδο.
Η Κάρτερ εκμεταλλεύτηκε στο έπακρο όλη την ελευθερία έκφρασης και φαντασίας που σου δίνει το παραμύθι και προσπάθησε ανεπιτυχώς να φτιάξει ένα μεταλλαγμένο είδος συσχετισμών ανάμεσα σε θύτη και θύμα διατηρώντας όλα τα βασικά στοιχεία του μύθου.
Κάπου μπερδεύτηκαν πολύ η λαϊκή παράδοση, η μαζική κουλτούρα και η λογοτεχνία ανακατωμένα με σεξουαλικότητα,ερωτικό υπόβαθρο και γοτθική ατμόσφαιρα που ξέφυγαν απο την διαχείριση,την διαπίστωση και την προσέγγιση σε ένα κάποιο μυθοπλαστικό μανδύα έστω....
Ενσυνείδητη γραφή και πολλή φαντασία αλλά το αποτέλεσμα επιεικώς απογοητευτικό.
Καλή ανάγνωση (τυχεροί).
Πολλούς παραμυθένιους ασπασμούς!
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.
The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories are indeed heaven for psychoanalysts, as they contain a lot of mythical symbols of subconscious conflicts and are dealing with Eros and Thantos that are, according to Freud, two most powerful driving forces for humans, and in Carter's imaginative world of fairy tales characters are driven by pursue for (sometimes sadistic, more-often sexual) pleasure.
Angela Carter made clear, "My intention was 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 and to use it as the beginnings of new stories."
And she did it using imagery and beautifully poetic and lyrical language to describe inner liberation of social conventions, prejudges and stereotypes that disable us to build strong character, become ourselves and fulfill our potential as women (and men). Carter challenges our views on male and female sexuality, relationships, marriage and traditional roles. In a subtle way, she devours the hypocrisy of traditional male-dominated society view of women as objects, helpless beautiful princesses in submissive passive roles of wives of powerful men. The lead female characters often start as poor, innocent, helpless girls that are bound in some way to man, and in time they become engaged, active, experienced, and adventurous characters. They become not only beauties but also beasts, they too are strong and begin to claim their (sexual) desires. When it comes to sexual liberation it often takes killing an authoritative man (or sacrificing their own virginity) to become fully free (a metaphor for killing the patriarchal stereotypes that society imposters on women). Themes of innocence, virginity, sexuality, and death are ongoing motives in the stories. Society idea of female perfection, "good, loyal, and submissive" is a death sentence for female protagonists in the stories. Classic male-female roles are reversed, and we can argue about the idea of masculinity and femininity, as the characters show that to be a complete mature person, you have to be both "masculine" and "feminine" to live an authentic and fulfilled existence. The femininity is tied up with inexperience and purity, and masculinity with experience and corruption.
Sex and sexual desire are the catalysts for the heroine's transformation into a beast. We can discuss the beast component of every character as coming in the touch of deep subconscious driving forces that become more clear and visible to themselves and the world. They had to accept the animal nature in themselves and in each other so that they can be free of the human world with its moral rules and social constructions, and connect to their true self.
The sense of freedom is also crucial in these romantic relationships and the loving, caring and satisfying relationships are advocated, where motives are pure and partners connect to each other’s true bare self. ‘Yet even these relationships it acknowledges are a matter of choice; as Puss expresses by saying, "your wives, if you need them," and "your husbands, if you want them." ’
The subtle display of society’s issue of putting woman against each other is present in "The Snow Child" and "The Werewolf", noting that women are often portrayed as they can coexist only as rivals, in envy and competition for male attention (eye roll).
I would say that some of the stories deeply affected me and it was very atmospheric and haunting read, reminded me of Poe’s stories which I infinitely adore, but some stories were in my opinion much stronger than others and were for me personally lacing some substance. I think she painted a beautiful picture of some aspects of human nature, but maybe not in a wide and deep enough way for my taste. I did some training in psychoanalysis and Freud gave absolutely remarkable knowledge to psychiatry, but I think that pursuit of pleasure and sexual liberation can only be starting points in the journey of psychological and spiritual maturity, not an ending as this book suggests. Even though the stories touch on a pursuit of power (self-psychology), power over oneself and life is often just a consequence of establishing a romantic relationship or losing virginity and that is something I can't agree with. I would be far more interested in the pursuit of meaning and purpose as I think that is an ultimate empowerment for both women and men.
To finish off with hope in Angela Carter’s quote I really admire:
"I really do believe that a fiction absolutely self-conscious of itself as a different form of human experience than reality (that is, not a logbook of events) can help to transform reality itself."