Carter and Sackville

Angela Carter
Angela Carter (1940-1992)
• née Stalker, born in East Sussex, anorexic teenager
journalist (as her father), studies at Bristol University
marries in 1960 but separates in 1969 and moves to Tokyo
• ”learnt what it is to be a woman and became radicalised”
(Nothing Sacred, 1982)
•1970s, 80s: travelling
(often writer in
residence at
1977 marries again,
later has a son
•dies of lung cancer at
the age of 52
Angela Carter's life – the background of social mobility, the teenage
anorexia, […] the travels, the choice of a man much younger, the
baby in her forties – is the story of someone walking a tightrope. It's
all happening "on the edge," in no man's land, among the debris of
past convictions. […] Her genius and estrangement came out of a
thin-skinned extremity of response to the circumstances of her life
and to the signs of the times.
Lorna Sage, "Death of the Author", Granta, No. 41, Autumn 1992, p.
236. N.B.: Lorna Sage also edited Flesh and the Mirror; Essays on
the Art of Angela Carter (1994)
Novels (secondary ?)
Shadow Dance, 1966.
The Magic Toyshop, 1967.
Several Perceptions, 1968.
Heroes and Villains, 1969.
Love, 1971.
The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman, 1972.
The Passions of New Eve, 1977.
Nights at the Circus, 1984.
Wise Children, 1991.
Collections of stories
Fireworks: Nine Profane Pieces (1974)
The Bloody Chamber (1979)
Black Venus (1985) aka Saints and Strangers
American Ghosts and Old World Wonders (1993)
Burning Your Boats: The Collected Short Stories (1995)
Non-fiction (only some are listed here)
The Sadeian Woman: An Exercise in Cultural History (1979)
(US title: The Sadeian Woman and the Ideology of Pornography)
Nothing Sacred: Selected Writings (1982)
Expletives Deleted: Selected Writings (1992)
The Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault (1977)
Sleeping Beauty and Other Favourite Fairy Tales (1982)
Surrealism is better known and easier to define in the visual arts
than in literature.… Surrealism is not quite the same as magic
realism… In surrealism, metaphors become the real, effacing
the world of reason and common sense. The Surrealists’
favourite analogy for their art, and often its source, was
dreaming, in which, as Freud demonstrated, the unconscious
reveals its secret desires and fears in vivid images and surprising
narrative sequences unconstrained by the logic of our waking
David Lodge, The Art of Fiction, 1992
besides the dream: the tale
(for children? cf. Lewis Carroll: Alice in Wonderland)
Celtic folklore: twilight (haunted places / castles, forests)
northern Gothic tradition
But this resemblance to dreams is deliberate, conscious as it
were. I have studied dreams extensively and I know about their
structure and symbolism. I think dreams are a way of the mind
telling itself stories. I use free association and dream imagery
when I write.
I like to think I have a hot line to my subconscious.
But I see my business, the nature of my work, as taking apart
mythologies, in order to find out what basic, human stuff they
are made of in the first place.
Angela Carter interviewed by Rosemary Carroll
Barthes, “Death of the Author” (1968)
• We know now that a text is not a line of words
releasing a single 'theological' meaning (the
'message' of the Author-God) but a multidimensional space in which a variety of
writings, none of them original, blend and
clash. The text is a tissue of quotations drawn
from the innumerable centres of culture….
The Bloody Chamber (1979)
often published earlier, but revised
• 1. The Bloody Chamber
• 2. The Courtship of Mr Lyon
Beauty and the Beast
• 3. The Tiger's Bride
Beauty and the Beast
• 4. Puss-in-Boots
• 5. The Erl-King
goblin (personification of the forest)
The Bloody Chamber (1979)
• 6. The Snow Child
Snow White (obscure)
• 7. The Lady of the House of Love
Vampirella (radio play)
• 8. The Werewolf
Little Red Riding Hood
• 9. The Company of Wolves
Little Red Riding Hood
• 10. Wolf-Alice
Little Red Riding Hood
Through the Looking Glass
The Bloody Chamber (1979)
self-awareness of the female protagonist (often virgin)
sexual awakening: fears and dangers, enormous powers
”He lay beside me, felled like an oak, breathing
stertorously, as if he had been fighting with me. In the
course of that one-sided struggle, I had seen his deathly
composure shatter like a porcelain vase flung against a
wall; I had heard him shriek and blaspheme at the
orgasm; I had bled. […] I had been infinitely dishevelled
by the loss of my virginity.”
”I was not afraid of him; but of myself.”
(The Bloody Chamber)
"There is a striking resemblance between the act of love
and the ministrations of a torturer." (Baudelaire)
Puss-in-Boots: ”saraband of Eros” (playful enjoyment)
end of adolescence
parental relationships: mother saving her daughter, father
selling her (The Courtship of Mr Lyon)
sexuality NOT linked to a harmonious relationship or
• ”on the day my childhood ended. For now my own skin
was my sole capital in the world and today I'd make my
first investment. […]
• I thought The Beast had wanted a little thing compared with
what I was prepared to give him; but it is not natural for
humankind to go naked, not since first we hid our loins with
fig leaves. He had demanded the abominable.
The Tiger’s Bride
• „the construction of a feminist subjectivity defined as active
rather than passive.” (Brooke 68)
”she knew she was nobody’s meat”
• Self-conscious, strong minded, ready to lose her virginity
the reader’s expectations (evil punished, good rewarded)
The Company of Wolves
• Those slavering jaws; the lolling tongue; the rime of
saliva on the grizzled chops--of all the teeming perils
of the night and the forest, ghosts, hobgoblins, ogres
that grill babies upon gridirons, witches that fatten
their captives in cages for cannibal tables, the wolf is
worst for he cannot listen to reason.
• You are always in danger in the forest, where no
people are.
• nature: opposite of civilization (non-pastoral)
creatures of the night (of the subconscious?)
The Company of Wolves
• wolf and hunter in one person:
good and evil characters: not so obvious
• „She stands and moves within the invisible pentacle of her
own virginity.”
„the scarlet shawl […] was as red as the blood she must spill.”
„she freely gave the kiss she owed him”
What saves her?
Amy Sackville
Amy Sackville
• b. 1981 in Durham
• studies English and theatre in Leeds and
English (modernism) in Oxford
• works as publisher’s assistant and editor
• creative writing in Goldsmiths College,
• The Still Point published in 2010
• Orkney in 2013
The Still Point (2010)
• parallel stories of an Arctic expedition in 1899 and the life of a
couple ca. a 100 years later
• omniscient narrator with different p. o. v. s (female / male)
• grave difficulties of marriage – yet happiness may be worked
out (an extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary modern
• Arctic as a "space that can't be mapped, that's constantly
shifting, that resembles land, but isn't" (cf. Mitchell’s Cloud
Atlas 2004)
tension between the need to express and the impossibility of
The Still Point
• both wives waiting for their husbands to return
• Emily and Edward
Julia and Simon
people in relationships
• similarities with V. Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway
parallel stories (Clarissa-Septimus…)
one day in life of… (with memories)
novels of character
• chief difference: male p. o. v. stronger
solution offered
The Still Point
• comparison with The Bloody Chamber
Carter / postmodernism: subversion,
deconstruction / destruction of identity
disconcert, astonishment
reevaluation of tradition (rejection?)
individual liberalism
Sackville: post-postmodern / pseudo-modern (?)
rebuilding of identity
cooperation based on the rebuilt identity
importance of tradition (restored / rebuilt)
individual in relationship
• ”Parting is the Mackley romance. Parting, waiting and
romantic loss.” negative turned into positive
”Edward Mackley shed a tear, it is not for us to judge him,
for heroes too love their viwes and fear death.” (63)
wife: hero?
present: unheroic?
Simon vs. Edward: ”Simon’s love story is not epic in scale
[…] He would like to be admired, he would like to be needed,
he would like to be noticed.” (108)
downgrading ambition
”There would be kippers and baked eggs and bacon for
breakfast, there would be luncheons, casseroles and cutlets,
and then there would be tea and muffins […] then cigars then
port then sleep in separate beds then gout or rheumatism and
then, eventually, death.” (37)
unlived life:
”…it had been efficiently filed away in the corner of his mind
that he prefers not to visit. […]
The time he hasn’t spent with the children he doesn’t
”There are many words that have gone unsaid in those ten
years, to fill the silences that widen between them.” (144)
”only grow louder with time” (285)
• parallel disasters of adultery
(Emily and John / Simon and Sandra)
• ”So soon, she betrayed him. Julia herself exists because of this
betrayal.” (225)
”it may have been that she wanted only a husband, not a hero.”
Simon and Julia’s struggle to maintain / rebuild
their unity
• ”Their breathing falls into a rhythm with a harmony of its own,
a syncopated sighing that cannot be transcribed. But listen: it is
peaceful. The symmetry of them, naked above the sheets…”