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O Quarto dos Horrores

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Angela Carter não se limitou a traduzir os "Contos" de Perrault. Pegou neles, e noutros, e transformou-os por completo. Com requinte, sensualidade, humor, e também insidioso terror. E assim temos um livro fantástico, povoado de "figuras" conhecidas, que deixam de o ser: o Barba Azul, O Gato-de-Botas, o Capuchinho Vermelho... De histórias, entre elas a célebre "Companhia dos Angela Carter não se limitou a traduzir os "Contos" de Perrault. Pegou neles, e noutros, e transformou-os por completo. Com requinte, sensualidade, humor, e também insidioso terror. E assim temos um livro fantástico, povoado de "figuras" conhecidas, que deixam de o ser: o Barba Azul, O Gato-de-Botas, o Capuchinho Vermelho... De histórias, entre elas a célebre "Companhia dos Lobos", maravilhosas e/ou arrepiantes, feitas de sonhos, mitos, metamorfoses. E de vampiros, e de lobisomens. Todo um mundo diferente para o leitor percorrer e saboreara, de uma grande escritora inglesa.


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Angela Carter não se limitou a traduzir os "Contos" de Perrault. Pegou neles, e noutros, e transformou-os por completo. Com requinte, sensualidade, humor, e também insidioso terror. E assim temos um livro fantástico, povoado de "figuras" conhecidas, que deixam de o ser: o Barba Azul, O Gato-de-Botas, o Capuchinho Vermelho... De histórias, entre elas a célebre "Companhia dos Angela Carter não se limitou a traduzir os "Contos" de Perrault. Pegou neles, e noutros, e transformou-os por completo. Com requinte, sensualidade, humor, e também insidioso terror. E assim temos um livro fantástico, povoado de "figuras" conhecidas, que deixam de o ser: o Barba Azul, O Gato-de-Botas, o Capuchinho Vermelho... De histórias, entre elas a célebre "Companhia dos Lobos", maravilhosas e/ou arrepiantes, feitas de sonhos, mitos, metamorfoses. E de vampiros, e de lobisomens. Todo um mundo diferente para o leitor percorrer e saboreara, de uma grande escritora inglesa.

30 review for O Quarto dos Horrores

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bill Kerwin

    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 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.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Amalia Gavea

    "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 "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...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sean Barrs the Bookdragon

    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 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 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 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.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

    Hey there Little Red Riding Hood, You sure are looking good. You’re everything a big bad wolf could want. Listen to me… I don’t think little big girls should Go walking in these spooky old woods alone. —Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs, 1962 In 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 more modern versions of “Little Red Riding Hood.” Inter Hey there Little Red Riding Hood, You sure are looking good. You’re everything a big bad wolf could want. Listen to me… I don’t think little big girls should Go walking in these spooky old woods alone. —Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs, 1962 In 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 more modern versions of “Little Red Riding Hood.” Interestingly, the earliest versions of the fairy tale were primarily oral and far more risqué. 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 quickly 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 young girls’ morality. In Perrault’s version, the story serves to warn young 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 young ladies—should not be beguiled by men’s wolfish charm (3). Jacob and Wilhelm Grimms’ version [originally called “Little Red-Cap”:], far more familiar to American and English audiences than that of Perrault, casts Little Red Riding Hood as a younger girl (i.e., even more vulnerable) and begins with the famous warning: “[W:]alk nicely and quietly 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 her. Of 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 young women are more embedded and more 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,” restores the tale’s original elements—such as the 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 space…she 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 more and more 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 you with,” by bursting into laughter: “[S:]he 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 that we are caught off-guard. And, that is precisely Carter’s point. Adapted from a prior publication

  5. 4 out of 5

    Cecily

    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 Hood. There is blood in the title, and there are many allusions to literal and metaphorical blood (mainly 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 Hood. There 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 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 equates 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 expectations. The Bloody Chamber The longest story is that of Bluebeard, which was a partial inspiration for Jane Eyre (see my review HERE), but here is set in modern(ish) times. A much married man takes a new, young, innocent wife. She leaves her mother and goes "Into marriage, into exile", despite some sinister signs (dead or missing wives, yet "his waxen face was not lined by experience"), her mother's concerns, and her own equivocation (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 quite 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 disturbingly youthful subjects. He wants to flood the bedroom with light, "all the better to see you", echoing two versions of Little Red Riding Hood later in the book. He 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 spoiler)[she 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)] . So far, so traditional. But there is a feisty heroine in this (view spoiler)[her mother, on horseback! (hide spoiler)] The Courtship of Mr Lyon Plenty of horror tropes in the opening: a man breaks down somewhere remote, seeks aid at a magnificent Palladian house, where he receives generous, enchanted hospitality from an unseen host: "he felt no fear although he knew by the pervasive atmosphere of a a suspension of reality that he had entered a place of privilege where all the laws of the world he knew need not necessarily apply." As he leaves, he takes a single white rose for his daughter, at which the Beastly owner appears. His wrath is only appeased by the promise of the man's daughter coming to dinner. What sort of father pimps his daughter, even if only for a meal? Beauty feels "spotless, sacrificial", realising "her visit to the Beast must be, on some magically reciprocal scale, the price of her father's [renewed] good fortune" and hence "she was possessed by a sense of obligation to an unusual degree". It continues traditionally, I think, though this well-known story is somehow one I never read very often as a child or parent (and I don't like Disney). The Tiger's Bride A darker version of Beauty and the Beast, opening "My father lost me to the Beast at cards" as he "magnificently concluded the career he had made of catastrophe". This Beauty is more bitter than the Mr Lyon version. Instead of magical staff, this version has automata, which make it far more sinister, and this Beast explicitly wants "The sight of a young lady's skin that no man has seen before". There is a strange parallel between Beauty and her animatronic maid: "had I not been allotted only the same kind of imitative life amongst men that the doll-maker had given her?" Ultimately, this leads Beauty to (view spoiler)[choose to stay with the Beast, sending the maid to her father, in her place. She willingly gives herself to the Beast: "to take off all my clothes involved a kind of flaying" and his abrasive tongue strips back layers of skin, until she is revealed to be fury, like him. (hide spoiler)] Puss in Boots This is overtly humorous, narrated by a proud, sharp, cynical Puss - and almost totally different from the usual story beyond the initial setup of an impoverished master and his unattainable object of affection. Puss also has a love object, and she is attainable, and at least as cunning as he is. This one features human sex and cat sex - but not together! The Erl-King I was unfamiliar with this exquisite story, but its richness and allusions to goblins, woodland and succulent berries reminded me of Christina Rossetti's Goblin Market (see my review HERE): "red berries as ripe and delicious as goblin or enchanted fruit" with "appalling succulence". There's not much plot, just beautiful, allegorical writing. "The lucidity, the clarity of the light that afternoon was sufficient to itself; perfect transparency must be impenetrable, these vertical bars of brass-coloured distillation of light coming down from sulphur-yellow interstices in a sky hunkered with grey clouds that bulge with more rain... The withered blackberries dangled like their own dour spooks on the discoloured brambles... Autumn... a haunting sense of the imminent cessation of being; the year, in turning, turns in on itself. Introspective weather, a sickroom hush." "The woods enclose... The intimate perspectives of the wood changed endlessly around the interloper, the imaginary traveller walking towards an invented distance that perpetually receded before me." "He strips me to my last nakedness... then dresses me again in an embrace so lucid and encompassing it might be made of water... his touch both consoles and devastates me." "What big eyes you have" (LRRH, again) "Eyes of an incomparable luminosity, the numinous phosphorescence of the eyes of lycanthropes. The gelid green of your eyes fixes my reflective face. It is a preservative, like a green liquid amber... I am afraid I will be trapped in it... He winds me into the circle of his eye on a reel of birdsong... looking there makes me giddy, as if I might fall into it." The Snow Child Less than a page long: a brutal male fantasy, with paedophilic and even incestuous undercurrents (but not graphic). The Lady of the House of Love The Queen of the Vampires is "a girl who is both death and the maiden". She's hundreds of years old, wearing a wedding gown, endlessly dealing (tarot) cards, and lives in a dusty and decaying mansion, inhibited by ghosts - like Dickens' Miss Havisham. She yearns to be human. As he approaches the house, he explicitly remembers childhood stories of such places (very meta), but goes in regardless. In this, the woman is the predator, and the virgin interloper a young man, and once again, flowers play a seductive part: the scent of roses creates "sensuous vertigo... faintly corrupting sweetness". He realises "She herself is a haunted house. She does not possess herself." There is blood (view spoiler)[she pricks her finger, and he kisses it (hide spoiler)] and a bedroom (view spoiler)[but no sex (hide spoiler)] and a final transformation, echoing many of the stories (view spoiler)[she dies, but leaves behind a flower, which magically revives and is a sort of premonition of his coming time in the trenches of WW1 (hide spoiler)] . The Werewolf A short reversal of Little Red Riding Hood, with the girl in charge: (view spoiler)[she meets the wolf, attacks it, then discovers it was actually her grandmother in disguise (hide spoiler)] . The Company of Wolves Forests are dangerous because of wolves, but some wolves become human when they die. This isn't necessarily a good thing. Lots of description of the beauty and danger of forests and fur. This is a girl-power version of Little Red Riding Hood. (view spoiler)[The pubescent girl takes a bet from a "man" that she can reach her grandma's house first and that if she loses, she'll give him a kiss. In fact, she gives herself to him fully, willingly and somewhat violently. “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 space…she is a closed system; she does not know how to shiver. She has her knife and she is afraid of nothing.” (hide spoiler)] Wolf-Alice A feral child is raised by wolves, then taken in by nuns who try to civilise her and then pass her on to a mysterious "Duke", who has no reflection (view spoiler)[until he has a bleeding wound that she licks (hide spoiler)] . "She inhabits only the present tense, a fugue of the continuous, a world of sensual immediacy." It's only when she starts menstruating that she begins to acquire a sense of times and, to some extent, external sense of self. Quotes * "My satin nightdress... supple as a garment of heavy water, and now teasingly caressed me, egregious, insinuating, nudging between my thighs." * "The first grey streamers of the dawn" - not a good sign. * "And we drove towards the widening dawn, that now streaked half the sky with a wintry bouquet of pink of roses, orange of tiger-lilies, as if my husband had ordered e a sky from a florist. The day broke around me like a cool dream." * "Sea; sand; a sky that melts into the sea - a landscape of misty pastels with a look about it of being continuously on the point of melting. A landscape with all the delinquent harmonies of Debussy." * "The faery solitude" of the "amphibious place, contravening the materiality of both earth and the waves, with the melancholy of a mermaiden who perches on her rock and waits, endlessly, for a lover who has drowned far away, long ago." * "Your thin white face, with its promise of debauchery only a connoisseur could detect." * "Her day of pastel-coloured idleness" * "Her face was acquiring, instead of beauty, a lacquer of the invincible prettiness that characterises certain pampered, exquisite, expensive cats." * "The furious cynicism peculiar to women whom circumstances force to witness folly." * "the sullen river, sweating fog." * "The treacherous south where you think there is no winter but forget you take it with you." * A valet with "unflattering obsequiousness... and old-fashioned look: ironic, sly, a smidgen of disdain in it... his face seamed with the innocent cunning of an ancient baby." * "French... the only language in which you can purr." * "Love is desire sustained by unfulfilment." * "The light of the fire sucked into the black vortex of his eye." * "A plangent twang like that of the plucked heartstrings of a woman of metal. Her hair falls down like tears." * "Random areas of staining, ominous marks like those left on the sheets by dead lovers." * The solstice is "the hinge of the year when things do not fit together as well as they should." * "His bedroom is painted terracotta, rusted with a wash of pain." Recommended by Danielle (CUSFS). Not to be confused with the pocket-sized collection, Bluebeard (see my review HERE), which retells several traditional tales, adds a twist and moral, but is less dark and deep than these ones. Similar, but different See Hardened Hearts, an anthology of stories on the tragedies of love by seventeen different writers. They're dappled with stains of dark fantasy or light horror, and some have a distinct fairytale feel, like these. See my review HERE.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ferdy

    Spoilers I 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 more than that to modernise a fairy tale. There were only a couple of them that I actually found somewhat enjoyable, the rest were rubbish. Hated the writing, it was convoluted, complicated, and nons Spoilers I 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 more than that to modernise a fairy tale. There were only a couple of them that I actually found somewhat enjoyable, the rest were rubbish. Hated the writing, it was convoluted, complicated, and 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 more like paragraphs than sentences, they never bloody ended. The stories: THE BLOODY CHAMBER. Quite 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. Ugh. PUSS 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 years 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 it. THE 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 more 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 that? THE 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 ways? WOLF-ALICE. Weird. 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 it. There 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 controlled/influenced by men in some way or another. Also, the writing was rubbish.

  7. 5 out of 5

    °°°·.°·..·°¯°·._.· ʜᴇʟᴇɴ Ροζουλί Εωσφόρος ·._.·°¯°·.·° .·°°° ★·.·´¯`·.·★ Ⓥⓔⓡⓝⓤⓢ Ⓟⓞⓡⓣⓘⓣⓞⓡ Ⓐⓡⓒⓐⓝⓤⓢ Ταμετούρο Αμ

    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 φι 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 εναλλαγή ρόλων: 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!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Paquita Maria Sanchez

    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 consta 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 you can no longer make the image out on any single one of them"; the image of the haggard yet 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 your children Disney, feed them this. Well, except for W.D's Robin Hood, that movie is amazing.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Greendale

    Exquisite. 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 Exquisite. 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.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jan-Maat

    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 stories. Reading 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 The Lady of the House of Love and The Company 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 stories. Reading 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 The Lady of the House of Love and The Company of Wolves - although I did wonder what would happen subsequently 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 way. But 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, sharp with her considered intellect. These stories were more 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 work. The 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 more 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 quite as an explicit a manner as here, possibly just with a knowing leer, or a wink, but the potential for sexual readings was always there. The 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 more 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 you 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 her. As 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 more widely read! Anyway 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 squirrels 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 squirrels, 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 spoiler)] and that rasping reminded me of The Tiger's Wife, the sense of love and passion as something abrasive, that will change you, maybe not into a stripy tiger, but will rasp and grind you, but with that as something to which one can surrender oneself - no doubt with trepidation and uncertainty, open to experience and the change that we experience as life. Perhaps this comes from Angela Carter flinging herself on to Japan and finding that she survived however changed and unchanged. That she has then got her rasping tongue under my flesh and works at it still, six months after reading leads me to re-evaluate this collection, a mixed bag no doubt but a terribly strong and versatile one.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Aubrey

    There's the indulgence of the mind, and there's the pleasure of the senses. One can fill oneself up on the former to the brim, hold firmly to one's breast its lack of ignorance, its sophisticated patterns of thought, its know-how translating into a delightful net of endless know-whens and know-whats and whatever know-wherefore's your precious neurons may desire. There's a unique satisfaction to be had in those sorts of theoretical acrobatics, that complex weave of states of mind that are fully a There's the indulgence of the mind, and there's the pleasure of the senses. One can fill oneself up on the former to the brim, hold firmly to one's breast its lack of ignorance, its sophisticated patterns of thought, its know-how translating into a delightful net of endless know-whens and know-whats and whatever know-wherefore's your precious neurons may desire. There's a unique satisfaction to be had in those sorts of theoretical acrobatics, that complex weave of states of mind that are fully aware and fairly smug about their enlightened existence. But my god, there's also something to be said for the sensual things in life. Revel all you want in the theory of evolution, but don't forget to take advantage of what this millenia long build up of exquisite physicality has gifted you with. A simple thing to do, that last part, wouldn't you think? This book certainly had no trouble with spilling out in a languorously lurid display its myriad charms and carnal glory, many if not all of the stories focused on the well earned pleasures of females taking charge of their own. And yet, look at the society of today, a heterosexually dominated rape culture complete with the most hypocritical set of double standards to ever exist, where every boy is a Casanova and every girl is either an easy slut or a virginal saint. Never both. That's a physical impossibility, didn't you know, since the very word 'virginity' implies that a cock has the power to change the inherent dichotomy of whatever it fucks. Boys can be virgins too, but the lack of it never seemed to compromise their intrinsic value in the history of cultures worldwide. Quite the opposite, in fact. And on the other hand, you get the dowry. Unicorns. Virginal white caked in contextual definitions of simpering innocence and shining perfection, ideological imperatives that soak the fairy tales choked down at the cradle and continue forever on in trash à la Fifty Shades of Gray. Spare me this puritanical rot seeping into society, enough to make a biological imperative a sin in some situations and a shameful state in all cases female. Deliver me from erotica that claims to pander to anything besides the patriarchy, and is subsumed by it all the more. Give me a heady mix of whirling words that seduce the senses without sacrificing the self on an altar of supreme obedience and abused devotion, offering pleasure with no sense of whatever guilt the world attempts to infuse it with. Keep your knights in shining armor who think the nub between their legs makes them a god over everything that lacks it. I'll take the man who sees the woman as an equal in all things in the bedroom and without, the woman who will kiss you if you treat her right and spill your throat out in a righteous flow if you treat her otherwise. You have your body. You have your dignity. You know that others have these, and that you must respect them. You don't need anything else.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Johanna

    Caperucita Roja, la Bella y la Bestia o el Gato con botas son cuentos asociados a la más tierna infancia, usados para dormir y consumidos en múltiples películas de animación. Dada la automática asociación con niñez, resulta interesante que alguien los reescriba cargándolos de erotismo y modificando el rol que la mujer ocupa en ellos. Nada de víctimas a la espera de ser rescatadas por un cazador o un príncipe. En estas páginas hay mujeres que desean, que hacen y se rebelan. Todo un acierto de Ang Caperucita Roja, la Bella y la Bestia o el Gato con botas son cuentos asociados a la más tierna infancia, usados para dormir y consumidos en múltiples películas de animación. Dada la automática asociación con niñez, resulta interesante que alguien los reescriba cargándolos de erotismo y modificando el rol que la mujer ocupa en ellos. Nada de víctimas a la espera de ser rescatadas por un cazador o un príncipe. En estas páginas hay mujeres que desean, que hacen y se rebelan. Todo un acierto de Angela Carter, uno que se consume despacito por su estilo barroco y exuberante, lleno de belleza e ingenio. Además, la edición de Sexto Piso tiene una contraportada escrita por Joyce Carol Oates y unas ilustraciones geniales de Alejandra Acosta. El libro es un ejemplar precioso.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lea

    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 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."

  14. 4 out of 5

    Algernon (Darth Anyan)

    Bloody fantastic pick for a Halloween read! It's not like we celebrate Halloween in my part of the world, but I am content to make it a custom every year to read something outside of my usual haunts. October is as good a pretext as any when it comes to horror, the younger sibling of fantasy and science-fiction in speculative fiction, at least for me. Angela Carter can be relied upon to transform scary entertainment into an art form, to twist a familiar fairytale into something more substantial, m Bloody fantastic pick for a Halloween read! It's not like we celebrate Halloween in my part of the world, but I am content to make it a custom every year to read something outside of my usual haunts. October is as good a pretext as any when it comes to horror, the younger sibling of fantasy and science-fiction in speculative fiction, at least for me. Angela Carter can be relied upon to transform scary entertainment into an art form, to twist a familiar fairytale into something more substantial, more disturbing and more provocative. And, ah! his castle. The faery solitude of the place; with its turrets of misty blue, its courtyard, its spiked gate, his castle that lay on the very bosom of the sea with seabirds mewing about its attics, the casements opening on to the green and purple, evanescent departures of the ocean, cut off by the tide from land for half a day ... that castle, at home neither on the land nor on the water, a mysterious, amphibious place, contravening the materiality of both earth and the waves, with the melancoly of a mermaiden who perches on her rock and waits, endlessly, for a lover who had drowned far away, long ago. That lovely, sad, sea-siren of a place! Welcome to a Walpurgis Night in a tri-colour scheme : the white of snow, cold and innocent; the black of a raven wing, deadly and merciless; the red of passion, of blood spilled. Having recently finished a "Sandman" graphic novel, I see this dance under the moonlight in terms of the anthropomorphic supernatural beings that rule Gaiman's alternate universe : Dream and Desire spinning around Death and Destruction watched from the sidelines by Destiny and Despair, with Delight chuckling from under the table. Are you ready to open the door to the bloody chamber? Wearing an antique bridal gown, the beautiful queen of the vampires sits all alone in her dark, high house under the eyes of the portraits of her demented and atrocious ancestors, each one of whom, through her, projects a baleful posthumous existence; she counts out the Tarot cards, ceaselessly constructing the constellations of possibilities as if the random fall of the cards on the red plush tablecloth before her could precipitate her from her chill, shuttered room into a country of perpetual summer and obliterate the perennial sadness of a girl who is both death and the maiden. Are you ready to explore the twisted paths of the magical forest of your subconscious, where nightmare creatures stand ready to pounce on the unwary traveller? 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. Step between the portals of the great pines where the shaggy branches tangle about you, trapping the unwary traveller in nets as if the vegetation itself were in a plot with the wolves who live there, as though the wicked trees go fishing on behalf of their friends - step between the gateposts of the forest with the greatest trepidation and infinite precautions, for if you stray from the path for one instant, the wolves will eat you. They are grey as famine, they are unkind as plague. You may think you already know the stories : here's Snow White, Beauty with her Beast, there Bluebeard, Vampirella and Red Riding Hood, Alice with her looking glass and Figaro / Puss-in-Boots serenading under a balcony. We have all started our literary journey with some of these timeless gems. But what if we take a look at them with our grown up eyes, carrying our no longer innocent baggage of desires and regrets and nightmares? I am so glad I didn't have to read Carter's stories in school, that I am able to appreciate the poetry of her imagery and her daring sense of humor without the pressure to come up with an essay or with a term paper, deconstructing the myths and finding feminist themes in the text. Liberated of such expectations, the journey was first of all one of pure joy and constant wonder. This is why I will try to keep my analytical habits under leash and concentrate on style - on the author's fascination with gothic scenery and decadent morality, so much more interesting that prim sobriety and dry academic studies. Early on, in the title story, there are a couple of references - to Huysmans novel "Le bas" and to a vintage erotica album "The Adventures of Eulalie at the Harem of the Grand Turk" (1748) - a gatepost warning if you like that "Here be Monsters'. I knew from previous Carter novels that her dream worlds are both exuberant and corrupted : a true jungle that boils over with life, with passion and with danger: Spilt, glistering milk of moonlight on the frost-crisped grass; on such a night, in moony, metamorphic weather, they say you might easily find him, if you had been foolish enough to venture out late, scuttling along by the churchyard wall with half a juicy torso slung across his back. [...] He is white as leprosy, with scrabbling fingernails, and nothing deters him. If you stuff a corpse with garlic, why, he only slavers at the treat: cadavre provencale. He will use the holy cross as a scratching post and crouch above the font to thirstily lap up the holy water. Since I put up this irreverent quote, I would also like to refute claims that the stories have some revanchist feminist or anti-Christian agenda. What they are is wild and liberating, freeing us from rigid conventions and outdated moral codes, inviting us to accept and embrace the darker side of our nature: How cruel it is, to keep wild birds in cages! So what if a few barbed arrows are thrown at the villagers with pitchforks who want to drive the ogre out of his swamp? It's about time somebody fights back against crowd mentality and superstition. Carter does it with a touch of humor that has a place for the supernatural and the scientific in the same story: To ride a bycicle is in itself some protection against superstitious fears, since the bycicle is the product of reason applied to motion. I am not going to give a synopsis for each tale included in the collection. Instead, I am wondering why Carter has chosen these particular fables and not others? what is the link between them? Well, I believe they all deal with a turning point in life : the moment when we leave childhood behind and we decide who or what we are. The moment when Beauty meets the Beast. It could be a young piano player getting sweeped of her feet in a whirwind romance by a rich and hulking business tycoon. Or it coul be a young British officer doing a tour of the Carpathians on bycicle. A walk in the forest to your grandmother house. Or a wild creature (Mowgli, Tarzan, Alice) brought out of the wild to be taught how to be civilized. There's usually a white rose, or a bridal gown, or a world blanketed in pure snow. And then there's the monster, the tiger or the werewolf, the king of the forest or the secretive prince in his high castle. When the two meet, blood will soon follow - sexual awakening, sometimes tender, sometimes brutal, sometimes deadly. He is the tender butcher who showed me how the price of flesh is love; Skin the rabbit, he says! Off come my clothes. What attracts the innocents to the corrupt? I've read all the stories here, and I don't have a clear answer. Probably because the answer is buried in the deepest recess of our instincts, predating civilization by a few geological eras. Probably blood is the price we pay for knowledge when we loose our innocence: He has the special quality of virginity, most and least ambiguous of states: ignorance, yet at the same time, power in potentia, and furthermore, unknowingness, which is not the same as ignorance. also, How did she think, how did she feel, this perennial stranger with her furred thoughts and her primal sentience that existed in a flux of shifting impressions; there are no words to describe the way she negotiated the abyss between her dreams, those wakings strange as her sleepings. Curiosity makes the world go round, pushes it out of stasis and drives away boredom. We fear what waits in the bloody chamber, yet we cannot keep ourselves from opening the door, even when warned beforehand of the danger. ... she could not control an instinctual shudder of fear when she saw him, for a lion is a lion and a man is a man and, though lions are more beautiful by far than we are, yet they belong to a different order of beauty and, besides, they have no respect for us: why should they? Yet wild things have a far more rational fear of us than is ours of them, and some kind of sadness in his agate eyes, that looked almost blind, as if sick of sight, moved her heart. The Beast is waiting for Beauty to step into its lair, to be chained there (in marriage, in what the world expects of her, in carnal pleasure). You have been warned! Erl-King will do you grievous harm. Piercingly, now, there came again the call of the bird, as desolate as if it came from the throat of the last bird left alive. That call, with all the melancholy of the failing year in it, went directly to my heart. Beauty is lost, but in its place arises a new creature, revelling in her shed blood and suddenly strong enough to tame the monster : "See! sweet and sound she sleeps in granny's bed, between the paws of the tender wolf." >><<>><<>><<>><<>><< The only criticism I have for "The Bloody Chamber" is that there are no more than ten stories here, some of them only a couple of pages long. I wanted more! especially more of Carter's comedy touch, such as "Puss-in-Boots". "Errl-King" is my favorite, but by a very narrow margin.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jess ❈Harbinger of Blood-Soaked Rainbows❈

    Read a book of short stories. -------------------- Well, I'm in a bit of a fairy-tale re- imagining place lately....this one is getting bumped up on the pile. Buddy read with two of my favorite ladies, Heather and Karly for July 1. --------------------- So when I totalled up all my stars for each story and divided them by the number of stories, this book fell onto 2.7 stars. I guess I will round this bitch up star-wise, but it's still only a 2.5 star read for me. What a disappointment. I'm never comp Read a book of short stories. -------------------- Well, I'm in a bit of a fairy-tale re- imagining place lately....this one is getting bumped up on the pile. Buddy read with two of my favorite ladies, Heather and Karly for July 1. --------------------- So when I totalled up all my stars for each story and divided them by the number of stories, this book fell onto 2.7 stars. I guess I will round this bitch up star-wise, but it's still only a 2.5 star read for me. What a disappointment. I'm never completely sure how to review collections of short stories. Because I like to review books as a whole and sometimes story collections are unified or have kind of a continuous theme to them, allowing me to review the book as a book and not as a book of stories. However this collection was strange. At times I felt as if different authors had penned several of them. They are so vastly different in theme, in tone, in continuity, voice, dynamics that I feel I need to review each as a separate entity. And since I do what I want, I will. Along with a fabulous quote from each and a gif to express my feelings in ways words simply cannot. So here goes. The Bloody Chamber: 3.5 stars (original source: Bluebeard) Every man must have one secret, even if only one, from his wife." This story was very creepy, haunting, and macabre. It was a wonderful way to start off the collection. I admit, I am not at all familiar with the original French Bluebeard tale, but I didn't think that knowledge was necessary anyway. Carter's prose dripped off the page, and I really enjoyed her use of gothic imagery and eerie atmosphere. I found her style a little unusual and tough to take at times, but in hindsight I realize it really didn't bother me in this story as much as some others. My primary criticism is that the ending was very abrupt and shot out of nowhere. It was so jarring that I had to read the ending twice to make sure I didn't miss something. It is noted early on that our narrator is leaving her home and her mother in order to marry and live with her husband in his estate. It is intimated that she and her mother have a very strong but very unusual relationship, but her mother is never more than just a few mysterious sentences thrown together at a time. For most of the book she is written a a figment of a past time, a past life. I found myself wanting to learn more about her and that past life she comes from when BAM! She shows up out of nowhere guns blazing. Almost written in a way that made me feel like her entrance was totally expected. The hints I got from her character before didn't quite jive with the character we are brought face to face with later and the whole thing came off as odd and intrusive. It was too big an entrance with such a small amount of screen time, that I was confused, and longed for a little more meat to her character. It would have helped with understanding AND she seemed like someone I wanted to know more about. Verdict: Creepy and atmospheric with a few flaws. Also, I kept thinking of this: Which wins it a few points. The Courtship of Mr. Lyon: 2 stars (original source: Beauty and the Beast) Do not think she had no will of her own; only, she was possessed by a sense of obligation to an unusual degree and, besides, she would gladly have gone to the ends of the earth for her father, whom she loved dearly. I enjoyed that Carter reverted to the original French story in which the beast was in the form of a lion. But that may have been the only thing I liked about this story and the only thing that made it (somewhat) different from EVERY OTHER BEAUTY & THE BEAST RETELLING OUT THERE. Of which there are several, I might add. This story was fine. A bit boring. Nothing new. And the ending is exactly what everyone who knows Beauty & the Beast expects. And you know what? It kinda blows. I understand the message of the story. I'm not dumb. I know that it is supposed to be about sacrifice and making tough choices to save and protect those we love, that love is blind, that real love doesn't understand skin color, flaws, physical beauty, conventions. We are supposed to accept that a young girl (who is in essence a slave) falls in love with her captor who is a literal animaland that sacrifice causes everything to just work out in the end. The reward for falling in love with a beast is having that beast turn into a beautiful specimen of a man? Man Belle is a lucky woman. She totally wins. I wish Carter had pulled a Shrek move instead. Verdict: Boring, but gets kudos for reminding me of one of my favorite childhood shows. The Tiger's Bride: 2.5 stars (original source: Beauty and the Beast) It was a world in itself but a dead one, a burned-out planet. I saw The Beast bought solitude, not luxury, with his money. So this one gains points for being way more original than the last story, but loses points for being completely bizarre. At first, I liked the way this tale followed the original but was a darker, more obscure version. And then out of nowhere Carter throws some shock value in for no reason. I hate arbitrary use of sex in stories. It sends the wrong message and just cheapens both the retelling and the original. And the sexy parts were not even sexy. Ew. Not at all. They were icky and obtrusive and did not jive with the rest of the tale. The ending was the best part and was an expected twist. However it could not save it from Verdict: Icky and bizarre sexual references dropped this from a 3.5 to a 2.5 Puss in Boots: 2 stars (original source: Puss in Boots) So all cats have a politician's air; we smile and smile and so they think we're villains. But this pussy got old real fast. I have never been the biggest fan of the original Puss in Boots story, but I have to admit I found Puss's narrative voice entertaining here. It was probably the best part of this story for me as the rest fell to pieces rather quickly. I think where this one failed was in Carter's bizarre choices in styling (which unfortunately had a tendency to stain most of the stories in this volume). She constantly shifted perspectives between first and third person and also switched tenses constantly. God did that make for a frustrating read. It was confusing and weird and I kept having to backtrack because certain things made no sense and didn't have a nice flow to them like some of her other stories did. Its strange, what I liked the best up to this point in the collection was Carter's way with words. Her writing style was poetic and beautiful and she seemed to really choose her words carefully to maximize meaning with beauty. But this story was a complete mess. Errors were rampant and the style was choppy and brusque. The shifting of tenses and perspectives caused quite a bit of confusion, and at times I became lost. Also on this list is some icky cat sex (a lot of icky cat sex) which made the bizarro sexy times in the last story seem hot and heavy by comparison. Verdict: I prefer this guy The Erl-King: 4 stars (original source: Erl-King folklore) The woods enclose. You step between the first trees and then you are no longer in the open air; the wood swallows you up. There is no way through the wood any more, this wood has reverted to its original privacy. Once you are inside it, you must stay there until it lets you out again for there is no clue to guide you through in perfect safety. This one is such a sucker punch to my emotional feels. So beautifully written with gorgeous prose and imagery. It got me in that place that knows that sometimes love is not enough but longs for the fairytale ending. The tension she created between the Erl-King and our narrator is perfect and macabre and raw and real and I felt myself longing for more. This is a really dark and twisty love story. The kind of love story that borders on horror and the kind of love that is a breath away from obsession and chaos. Carter's stylistic flaws are still present in this story, but the imagery and world building and raw emotions of it completely make up for it. One of the best in this collection by far. Verdict: Delightlfully and beautifully dreary and sinister. Kind of like: The Snow Child: 1 star (original source: The Snow Child, maybe a little Snow White as well) So the girl picks a rose; pricks her finger on the thorn; bleeds; screams; falls. And that's enough said. This story was completely and totally bizarres. And not in a good way. Verdict: Shit. The Lady of the House of Love: 4 stars (original source: Vampirella, maybe a hint of Sleeping Beauty) Her voice is filled with distant sonorities, like reverberations in a cave: now you are the place of annihilation, now you e at the place of annihilation. And she is a cave full of echoes, she is a system of repetitions, she is a closed circuit. That's what this story is: Beautiful. Haunting. Macabre. It is the story that I think fits the best with Carter's odd style. It is also very reminiscent of The Erl-King, my favorite up until this point. And I loved this one for all the reasons I loved that one. Her descriptions of the eerily serene lady, her enchanting house, and her ill-fated lovers were so well rendered and exquisite I really got lost in her words and her world. The ending was refreshing and unexpected, and just a little sad. Verdict: Not perfect, but total lasting power. Plus I kept thinking of this: The Werewolf: 5 stars (original source: Little Red Riding Hood) It is a northern country; they have cold weather, they have cold hearts. This story was perfect. And rang in at 2.5 pages. It packed a punch and was very unique. I loved every second of it. It had the perfect about of folktale, the perfect amount of eerie, and the perfect punch of an ending. I loved this take on the Little Red Riding Hood tale, and loved even more, her take on wolves and werewolves. At this point I have realized that Carter's juice is that fine line that exists between love and hate, beauty and obsession, desire and fear. The stories that work are the ones that make me a little uncomfortable and that don't fit nicely with everyone's idea of a fairytale. This story was absolutely glorious. A total gem. Verdict: Bam! A hit. The Company of Wolves: 1.5 stars (original source: Little Red Riding Hood) At night, the eyes of wolves shine like candle flames, yellowish, reddish, but that is because the pupils of their eyes flatten on darkness and catch the light from your lantern to flash it back to you--red for danger; if a wolf's eyes reflect only moonlight, then they gleam a cold and unnatural green, a mineral, a piercing colour. If a benighted traveller spies those luminous, terrible sequins stitched suddenly on the black thickets, then he knows he must run, if fear has not struck him stock-still As completely original as the last wolf tale was, this was quite the opposite. And Carter seems to have gone back to bizzaro-world with all her stylistic weirdness at full mast. And I got to the point where I was just done. Done with re-reading passages that made no sense. Done with obscure motivations that are arbitrary and cumbersome. Done with plotlessness that have been done and done and done some more. This tale had more of a direct and traditional approach to Little Red with a bit of a horror twist. Which I don't need to remind you has been done before. Verdict: predictable, boring, and pretentious with some kickass descriptions of wolves. Just wish there was more Liam Neeson. Wolf-Alice: 2 stars (original source: Little Red Riding Hood and Through the Looking Glass) The damned Duke haunts the graveyard; he believes himself to be both less and more than a man, as if his obscene difference were a sign of grace. During the day, he sleeps. His mirror faithfully reflects his bed but never the meagre shape within the disordered covers. I loved the idea of this story, but the execution fell flat. The story of a feral girl raised by wolves and then found, raised, and reared by an enigmatic Duke could have been quite awesome. And it wasn't. Once again, Carter's weird style interjected itself and made me feel unattached and alienated. And at this point, the fucks I had to give amounted to zero. Verdict: potential that never amounted to anything. So, this is like 2.5-3 stars. The stories that were bad were really bad, but there were a few little gems hidden in here. I even think I was a little too generous sometimes with my star ratings for the ones I didn't care for as much. While I appreciate the obscurity and the atmosphere that she was trying to create here, I just wish that there was a little more meat and a little less fat.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ian "Marvin" Graye

    Into the Unguessable Country of Marriage In my review of Angela Carter’s first collection of short stories, “Fireworks”, I focussed on a number of concerns that seemed to form the basis of her writing strategy. They were scattered over the length of the individual stories. In this collection, these concerns are less overtly stated. In most cases, she let the writing do the job. The writing is much more complete and functional in the service of her chosen genre. However, in retrospect, one paragr Into the Unguessable Country of Marriage In my review of Angela Carter’s first collection of short stories, “Fireworks”, I focussed on a number of concerns that seemed to form the basis of her writing strategy. They were scattered over the length of the individual stories. In this collection, these concerns are less overtly stated. In most cases, she let the writing do the job. The writing is much more complete and functional in the service of her chosen genre. However, in retrospect, one paragraph (the first) in the story “The Bloody Chamber” stands out as evidence of her intent: "I remember how, that night, I lay awake in the wagon-lit in a tender, delicious ecstasy of excitement, my burning cheek pressed against the impeccable linen of the pillow and the pounding of my heart mimicking that of the great pistons ceaselessly thrusting the train that bore me through the night, away from Paris, away from girlhood, away from the white, enclosed quietude of my mother's apartment, into the unguessable country of marriage...I felt a pang of loss as if, when he put the gold band on my finger, I had, in some way, ceased to be her child in becoming his wife. The Virgin and the Marquis Several things can be inferred from this paragraph: The narrator is a young girl, a teenager, probably immediately (post-)pubescent, a virgin. She is engaged to be married – to a man we later find out is a Marquis (like de Sade), who lives in an enormous castle and is “so rich; so well-born." She is leaving the comfort of life with her mother, perhaps for the first time of any duration. She has caught a train, alone, on the way to meet her fiancé, prior to their wedding (or their wedding night). She is midway between childhood and marriage. The Silent Music of My Unknowingness In a way, for all its derivation from the French folk tale "Bluebeard", the narrative is like that of Little Red Riding Hood, where the narrator has to leave the safety of her home and pass through the wood to her grandmother’s house. The question is whether she will safely make it through the wood, and whether she will be safe when she arrives (and thereafter). The journey through the wood is analogous to the challenges of post-pubescent life, when a girl’s innocence and virginity are at the risk of unscrupulous males, whether boys or adults. Both innocence and virginity are things a male wants to take away from a girl: "Then I realised, with a shock of surprise, how it must have been my innocence that captivated him - the silent music, he said, of my unknowingness...” Removed from parental or maternal guidance and protection, a naïve, unworldly young girl is defenceless. The virgin can quickly become a victim. The Sheer Carnal Avarice of It Marriage is a social institution, where a young girl, a virgin can be legitimately traded to a male for his sexual pleasure, not to mention the other burdens his wife must assume. Men have made marriage a transaction, something that complements and rewards their social and economic status. They must exercise good judgement in their choice of partner, notwithstanding the underlying impulse of lust: "I saw him watching me in the gilded mirrors with the assessing eye of a connoisseur inspecting horseflesh, or even of a housewife in the market, inspecting cuts on the slab. I'd never seen, or else had never acknowledged, that regard of his before, the sheer carnal avarice of it...I sensed in myself a potentiality for corruption that took my breath away...The next day we were married.” This suggests that a girl/woman is forced to become an unknowing accomplice to a moral crime, that of corruption, even though the institution is socially recognised and promoted and enforced by the Church. A Glutton for Her Punishment Paradoxically, the girl/woman is not entitled to any decency from her husband. She must endure his contempt for women. She must take him as the agent of corruption that he has become, with all the experiences that have made him the man he is (and the man or beast that he will be to her): "...we should have a formal disrobing of the bride, a ritual from the brothel. Sheltered as my life had been, how could I have failed, even in the world of prim bohemia in which I lived, to have heard hints of his world?” Sexually, the husband is a glutton: "He stripped me, gourmand that he was, as if he were stripping the leaves of an artichoke...” At the heart of the artichoke, he finds and plunders the narrator’s “split fig”. The Iniquity of Marriage Her husband surrounds her with white lilies, as if that is enough to buy off her innocence and compel her loyalty and subjection: "The lilies I always associate with him; that are white. And stain you.” This is no suitable transaction for a girl/woman. The institution is not virtuous, but stained: "I longed for him. And he disgusted me... Did all that castle hold enough riches to recompense me for the company of the libertine with whom I must share it?" This marriage is no fairy tale, certainly not one that was destined for a happy ending. Too late, the narrator realises that she should have taken more notice of the warnings implicit in fairy tales: "I thought all these were old wives' tales, chattering of fools, spooks to scare bad children into good behaviour.” Having allowed her narrator to come to her senses, Angela Carter also permits her to have a happy ending of sorts (which I won’t reveal). Suffice it to say that her mother comes to her rescue. This is one daughter who is not permanently abandoned to an iniquitous state of marriage. Christine "In my freshman and sophomore school years, when I was 14 and 15 years old, my group of friends intersected with Brett and his friends for a short period of time. I had been friendly with a classmate of Brett’s for a short time during my freshman year, and it was through that connection that I attended a number of parties that Brett also attended. We did not know each other well, but I knew him and he knew me. In the summer of 1982, like most summers, I spent almost every day at the Columbia Country Club in Chevy Chase, Maryland swimming and practicing diving. One evening that summer, after a day of swimming at the club, I attended a small gathering at a house in the Chevy Chase/Bethesda area. There were four boys I remember being there: Brett Kavanaugh, Mark Judge, P.J. Smyth, and one other boy whose name I cannot recall. I remember my friend Leland Ingham attending. I do not remember all of the details of how that gathering came together, but like many that summer, it was almost surely a spur of the moment gathering. I truly wish I could provide detailed answers to all of the questions that have been and will be asked about how I got to the party, where it took place, and so forth. I don’t have all the answers, and I don’t remember as much as I would like to. But the details about that night that bring me here today are ones I will never forget. They have been seared into my memory and have haunted me episodically as an adult. "When I got to the small gathering, people were drinking beer in a small living room on the first floor of the house. I drank one beer that evening. Brett and Mark were visibly drunk. Early in the evening, I went up a narrow set of stairs leading from the living room to a second floor to use the bathroom. When I got to the top of the stairs, I was pushed from behind into a bedroom. I couldn’t see who pushed me. Brett and Mark came into the bedroom and locked the door behind them. There was music already playing in the bedroom. It was turned up louder by either Brett or Mark once we were in the room. I was pushed onto the bed and Brett got on top of me. He began running his hands over my body and grinding his hips into me. I yelled, hoping someone downstairs might hear me, and tried to get away from him, but his weight was heavy. Brett groped me and tried to take off my clothes. He had a hard time because he was so drunk, and because I was wearing a one-piece bathing suit under my clothes. I believed he was going to rape me. I tried to yell for help. When I did, Brett put his hand over my mouth to stop me from screaming. This was what terrified me the most, and has had the most lasting impact on my life. It was hard for me to breathe, and I thought that Brett was accidentally going to kill me. Both Brett and Mark were drunkenly laughing during the attack. They both seemed to be having a good time. Mark was urging Brett on, although at times he told Brett to stop. A couple of times I made eye contact with Mark and thought he might try to help me, but he did not. "During this assault, Mark came over and jumped on the bed twice while Brett was on top of me. The last time he did this, we toppled over and Brett was no longer on top of me. I was able to get up and run out of the room. Directly across from the bedroom was a small bathroom. I ran inside the bathroom and locked the door. I heard Brett and Mark leave the bedroom laughing and loudly walk down the narrow stairs, pin-balling off the walls on the way down. I waited and when I did not hear them come back up the stairs, I left the bathroom, ran down the stairs, through the living room, and left the house. I remember being on the street and feeling an enormous sense of relief that I had escaped from the house and that Brett and Mark were not coming after me." https://www.politico.com/story/2018/0... “Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter...The uproarious laughter between the two. They’re having fun at my expense...They were laughing with each other.” SOUNDTRACK: (view spoiler)[ Siouxsie And The Banshees - "Christine" This song was inspired by the story of Chris Costner Sizemore. Bauhaus - "Bela Lugosi's Dead" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKRJf... (hide spoiler)]

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    "The Marquis stood transfixed, utterly dazed, at a loss. It must have been as if he had been watching his beloved Tristan for the twelfth, thirteenth time and Tristan stirred, then leapt from his bier in the last act, announce in a januty aria interposed from Verdi that bygones were bygones, crying over spilt milk did nobody any good and, as for himself, he proposed to live happily ever after. The puppet master, open mouthed, wide eyed, impotent at the last, saw his dolls break free of their str "The Marquis stood transfixed, utterly dazed, at a loss. It must have been as if he had been watching his beloved Tristan for the twelfth, thirteenth time and Tristan stirred, then leapt from his bier in the last act, announce in a januty aria interposed from Verdi that bygones were bygones, crying over spilt milk did nobody any good and, as for himself, he proposed to live happily ever after. The puppet master, open mouthed, wide eyed, impotent at the last, saw his dolls break free of their strings, abandon the rituals that he had ordained for them since he began and start to live for themselves; the king, aghast, witnesses the revolt of his pawns." If there is a "mission statement" in this collection of stories by Angela Carter, this is its most clearly crafted iteration. These stories are told as a particularly erudite fairy might, whispering into your head and dancing through your waking and unconscious dreams, pulling out impressions that half given, now entirely created. These stories make one smile to realize once again how porn is for emotional children, and these stories are for adults, who can are prepared to realize the full possibilities of their sexuality, both in the literal sexual sense, and in the figurative sense of gender-related identity, both male and female, though the pieces ostensibly speak to female identity. And then brought back to earth with the impish, shocking voice of a Puck, who reminds us that these tales are very firmly a part of our deliciously dirty, vulgarly presented reality. These stories will be familiar to adults, but only in the most basic sense. The title story is a retelling of Bluebeard, "The Courtship of Mr Lyon," a modern Beauty and the Beast, "The Lady in the House of Love," a creepily morbid Sleeping Beauty, several recreations of Little Red Riding Hood, etc. They are meant to be familiar, they are meant to lull one into a smug sense of knowing, and then slowly, subtly take each piece of that feeling of comfort away. My particular favorites are the title story, "The Bloody Chamber," and the end of the cycle, "Wolf-Alice". The Bloody Chamber's indignant statement on a woman's place in fairy tales is very well taken. It makes the point that Bluebeard picked a woman he obviously knew was curious, made the point of making the "don't press the red button" argument, and set her up to fail, in order that he could watch Eve Falling and Falling again for some kind of personal, perverse security in his own masculine identity. She is punished for the nature that she was born with, for simply being in the world. The above stated quote comes towards the end of the tale, as the sacrificial Eve and her companions take control of their inexorable fate. "Wolf Alice," is a beautifully, wonderfully sad statement on what it means to be a woman. It describes a little girl raised by wolves, who grows up with absolutely no knowledge of female identity, much less "human" identity. (She believes her "menses," are a spell cast by the full moon as it shines down upon her, for example, and why not?) It shows just how socialized the supposed identity of "woman," is, and just what women may be capable of doing if they have no idea what it is they are supposed to be, as well as reminding us again and again how little seperates us from the carnivorous beasts of the forest. Each story has its own message to give, or ambiguous impression to leave (not all of them are meant for words), beyond the obvious feminist power statements. I would highly recommend this trip to a world that, for all we know, is a much closer part of ours thatn we know.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lotte

    3.5/5 stars! Dark, sensual and definitely adult fairytale retellings. Some stories were a bit to cryptic and symbolic for my liking, but there were also some real gems in this collection. My favourite short stories were 'The Bloody Chamber', 'The Erl-King' and 'The Werewolf'. (view spoiler)[Why is Angela Carter so obsessed with the word 'nipple'? :D Hahaha, this honestly annoyed me after a while. The word appeared in literally every story. (hide spoiler)]

  19. 4 out of 5

    Karlyflower *The Vampire Ninja, Luminescent Monster & Wendigo Nerd Goddess of Canada (according to The Hulk)*

    Category: A book of short stories. The Bloody Chamber 3.5 Stars I am by no means familiar with the story of Bluebeard, so I have no idea how far Carter may have deviated from the traditional story with this short story retelling HOWEVER I found myself getting lost in her lush, descriptive prose within this one. Her language choices may, overall, become a downfall but for this story it was both fitting and quotable. I do wish I had gotten a bit more of a story here, I would love to have read more ab Category: A book of short stories. The Bloody Chamber 3.5 Stars I am by no means familiar with the story of Bluebeard, so I have no idea how far Carter may have deviated from the traditional story with this short story retelling HOWEVER I found myself getting lost in her lush, descriptive prose within this one. Her language choices may, overall, become a downfall but for this story it was both fitting and quotable. I do wish I had gotten a bit more of a story here, I would love to have read more about the mother character, she sounds truly badass (and we all know my love of badass women!). That night at the opera comes back to me even now … the white dress; the frail child within it; and the flashing crimson jewels round her throat, bright as arterial blood. The Courtship of Mr. Lyon 2 Stars I don’t really have all too much to say about this one; there was some lovely imagery but the story itself was a very standard retelling of The Beauty and The Beast with, perhaps, less of a build-up to the ending than I would have cared for. I never thought I would say that Disney’s version of any fairy tale was more sinister than a different retelling, but in this case it is true. I remember being young and not understanding why the Beast transformed in the end, doesn’t love mean loving someone as they are?! Why does he suddenly become handsome... and wouldn’t Beauty (Belle) be reviled by this switch if she fell in love with him as the Beast?! The mind, it boggles. I suppose love is blind, or whatever... The Tiger’s Bride 2.5 Stars This is another retelling of The Beauty and the Beast and while I liked some elements of it more than the former it still left a vaguely unsatisfying taste in my mouth. I don’t mind when retellings get a little more sexual than their parent fairy tales, however the 'Let’s get nekkid' element of this felt forced and strange. However, I liked the twist at the end and the sometimes oddly chosen but still understandable edge of strength to Beauty here. I also found her bitterness refreshing my spine was sharp as broken glass. ... Belle always seemed far too sweet about her father’s treatment in the Disney version and I enjoyed a detour from that here. Puss–in-boots 2 Stars I do NOT enjoy the voice of the narrator (Puss) here, at all. It was distracting and infuriating, in turns, and removed me entirely from the story. Meanwhile the story itself wasn’t all that interesting to begin with so this voice felt forced and overly annoying. The Erl-King 3.5 Stars I loved everything about this story right up until the very end (and a jarring and removing pronoun switch that left me flabbergasted). As a nature lover myself I am always drawn to descriptions of same. I found Carter’s language usage for the Erl-King’s forest wonderfully fitting. Personally, I do not really know the root of this story so I cannot speak to that BUT I did find myself lost in the prose here which felt symbiotic with the story she was telling. The Snow Child 1 Star So I read a retelling of The Snow Child earlier this year, and if you will listen to my advice, you should just go ahead and read that one (The Snow Child) because this short is just going for shock factor and it’s fucking AWFULL!! The Lady of the House of Love 3 Stars This was a retelling of Sleeping Beauty (apparently) where the main character is a house-locked vampire with a penchant for wild-life critters and self-loathing. It was very good but the tense jumping was quite apparent here and I found it removed me from the story several times, which was disappointing as the story itself was quite an interesting concept. The Werewolf & The Company of Wolves 2 Stars, each These are both retellings of Little Red Riding Hood and while they had different elements I found them regurgita of each other and found them both unsatisfying. I have never really been a fan of this story to begin with so perhaps that has something to do with my lackluster feeling here, or perhaps I was just becoming far too irritated by tense jumps in Carter’s prose by this point to give much of a shit anymore. Meh. Wolf-Alice 2 Stars When I first started reading this short I thought it was going to be an awesome fairy tale version of the real life phenomenon I did a psychology project on during my only post-secondary foray. There are several stories in humanity’s history of children raised by animals in the wild, probably the most notable being Amala and Kamala who were raised by wolves in the early 1900’s, and the changes that this version of nurturing brings about are outstanding. However, this short story (which I think is based on a fairy tale I’ve never heard of) is not outstanding. -------Pre-Review------- Once Upon a Time... there were two lovely ladies, Jess & Heather, who decided to do a buddy-read of this book and I could not resist joining BECAUSE Fairy tale retellings.... Set to commence June 1 July 1, but I didn't actually start it until July 15th because I am the WORST.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Patrizia

    Entrare nel mondo fantastico di Angela Carter significa misurarsi con gli angoli più segreti della mente, guidati da una prosa ricca e sensuale. Le fiabe che riecheggiano nei dieci racconti del libro, sono solo uno spunto dal quale l’autrice si discosta con un’immaginazione notevole e con un’incredibile capacità di creare atmosfere cupe, tensione erotica e figure femminili che rinascono attraverso prove spesso cruente, rivendicando il diritto alla passione. La camera di sangue, ispirata a un Barb Entrare nel mondo fantastico di Angela Carter significa misurarsi con gli angoli più segreti della mente, guidati da una prosa ricca e sensuale. Le fiabe che riecheggiano nei dieci racconti del libro, sono solo uno spunto dal quale l’autrice si discosta con un’immaginazione notevole e con un’incredibile capacità di creare atmosfere cupe, tensione erotica e figure femminili che rinascono attraverso prove spesso cruente, rivendicando il diritto alla passione. La camera di sangue, ispirata a un Barbablu/de Sade, è forse la storia più fedele all’originale. The Snow Child, la più breve, è anche la più perversa. E ancora la triste castellana vampiro e la bambina cresciuta dai lupi, in cui il sangue è simbolo di crescita e di morte; da una versione più tradizionale della Bella e la Bestia si passa alla più visionaria e Sposa della Tigre, in cui è la Bella a diventare Bestia. Il mio racconto preferito, in cui l’arte descrittiva della Carter raggiunge momenti di grande bellezza, è quello del Re degli elfi, che cattura giovani donne per trasformarle in uccelli che cantino per lui.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Konstantin

    Carnivalesque, lush, vivid, riveting, enchanting, deeply sensual, fascinating, mesmerizing, thought-provoking, ominous, luscious prose, grotesque dark gothic and fantasy imagery, glorious descriptions, feminist spin on old tales, subtle horror undertones... Seriously, how can one not love Carter's stories?

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    This book just didn't do it for me and I can say with 100% certainty that I did not like it because of Angela Carter's writing style. I love fairytale retellings but the writing made this book hard to enjoy. The stories themselves weren't actually that bad and I can see why people would like this book but I couldn't like them or get fully into them because of the writing. The writing was insufferable. Carter writes insanely long sentences with tonnes of punctuation and it is the stuff of nightma This book just didn't do it for me and I can say with 100% certainty that I did not like it because of Angela Carter's writing style. I love fairytale retellings but the writing made this book hard to enjoy. The stories themselves weren't actually that bad and I can see why people would like this book but I couldn't like them or get fully into them because of the writing. The writing was insufferable. Carter writes insanely long sentences with tonnes of punctuation and it is the stuff of nightmares for me. Some of the stories had more lenghty sentences than others and I just really hated it. Every time I thought about continuing to read this, I dreaded it and I contemplated just marking it as a DNF because it was so bad. I did skip about 3 stories because I just couldn't get into them. My favourite story was The Bloody Chamber. I would not recommend this book and I probably won't be reading another book by Angela Carter.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    Fairy tales are mostly about fucking. You already knew that, but it wasn't really explicitly pointed out until Angela Carter, the towering misty cult mid-1900s author, flipped them on their backs. Neil Gaiman said she pointed out, "'You see these fairy stories, these things that are sitting at the back of the nursery shelves?...Each one of them is a loaded gun.'" Here she is looking like she's got a gun The thing with fairy tales is that it's not just stories for children that are dark and lurid, Fairy tales are mostly about fucking. You already knew that, but it wasn't really explicitly pointed out until Angela Carter, the towering misty cult mid-1900s author, flipped them on their backs. Neil Gaiman said she pointed out, "'You see these fairy stories, these things that are sitting at the back of the nursery shelves?...Each one of them is a loaded gun.'" Here she is looking like she's got a gun The thing with fairy tales is that it's not just stories for children that are dark and lurid, it's childhood itself. The reason they're so enduringly popular with children is that they hint at the huge dark secrets, death and danger and sex, that we were very busy trying to deal with already. (The originals, of course, had all the violence but not the fucking; later versions were increasingly pasteurized.) You always knew Little Red Riding Hood was about fucking. The story didn't exactly say it and you didn't either, because if anyone said it out loud you wouldn't be allowed to read it. It was subtle enough so that you could think about it in your private head. But we weren't idiots, right? We knew all these things were there, and they seemed like they had a lot of shadows and maybe some sparkles, and we had a lot to think about. Carter unpacked lots of things, not just fairy tales. Her biographer Edmund Gordon says: At a time when English literature was dominated by sober social realists, she played with disreputable genres – gothic horror, science fiction, fairytale – and gave free rein to the fantastic and the surreal. Her work is funny, sexy, frightening and brutal, and is always shaped by a keen, subversive intelligence and a style of luxuriant beauty. She was concerned with unpicking the mythic roles and structures that underwrite our existences – in particular the various myths of gender identity. But fairy tales are what she's about here, in her best-known book, and those myths of gender identity. The frisson we used to feel reading these stories was because we were always afraid (or hoping, or both) that a girl was about to be defiled. They were victims. Carter flips that, making the woman the lead actor. In The Erl-King this lady realizes that the wild man of the woods is going to turn her into a bird and put her in a cage as soon as they're done fucking, and what does she do? (view spoiler)[She strangles him and sets all his other little birds free. (hide spoiler)] You probably already know that the title novella, The Bloody Chamber, is based on Bluebeard. There will be ex-wives! During her lifetime no one was quite sure what to do with Carter, who was messing with magical realism and "slipstream" way before it was cool. Now she's the patron saint of Carmen Maria Machado, Kelly Link, Jeanette Winterson, Anne Rice, about a million movies...I mean, and she's still obscure. Company of Wolves, directed by Neil Jordan, based on the story from this book To grow up and have a grown-up conversation about those stories sends this little thrill through us, then. In a way, it feels like we got busted! "They knew all along that these were dirty?!" And in another way, we realize that we're not as alone in our private heads as we maybe thought we were. In The Company of Wolves, Riding Hood comes on the wolf after he eats her grandmother and she's like, (view spoiler)[well, are we going to fuck or what? (hide spoiler)] In The Tiger's Bride, she finds out that her husband is a tiger and you're like oh shit, right? A tiger! And she's like (view spoiler)[lol, I'm a tiger too, let's do it. (hide spoiler)] We're all monsters up in here, friends. Let's get weird. Here are my notes on the individual stories, with (view spoiler)[ Bloody Chamber Bony girl becomes fourth wife of Marquis who wears a real monocle. He’s the kind of dude who puts mirrors all over his bedroom. Carter certainly would like to work in a bunch of references to the Decadent movement, a 19th-century thing involving Gothicness and symbolism and dirty stuff. Oscar Wilde was involved, and Baudelaire. Here are some of the references I looked up: - The novel Là-Bas - Eliphas Levi was a French magician - The 1828 erotic novel The Lustful Turk: Or Scenes In The Harem Of An Eastern Potentate features a lady who gets raped and is kindof into it. I haven't read it. It's said to be the inspiration for the made-up book "Adventures of Eulalie at the Harem of the Grant Turk." - The French Symbolist painter Gustave Moreau never made a painting called "The Sacrificial Victim," but he did make a number of other paintings of naked ladies. Here's one. Is...is Oedipus going to fuck that sphinx? wtf bro Puss in boots Cat helps his master murder the rich old husband of a hot lady, after which they get married and live happily ever after. Erl king Atmospheric fairytale woods; wild man who seduces a virgin. She realizes he will turn her into a bird and keep her in a cage. Sudden shift from first to third person as she kills him and sets the birds free. Snow child Wife tried to murder her; count fucks her corpse. Lady of the house of love A young beautiful vampire who hates killing molders away in her rotting castle until a dashing young man stumbles into her lair. Is this the inspiration for Anne Rice, for Twilight? It has some of that adolescent romance. The vampire kills herself instead of eating him. He rejoins his company, soon to learn shuddering in the trenches of whatever world war. Werewolf Love this brief one! Flips little red riding hood. Girl maims a wolf that tries to eat her in the woods; arrives at grandmothers to find her maimed in the same way. Wild paw has turned into severed grandma hand. Villagers stone her to death and girl gets her house. Company of wolves Riding hood again, a werewolf again, he kills grandma but then she’s into it and they fuck instead of him eating her. Wolf-Alice Some sort of Nell girl is housekeeper for a vampire? I didn’t totally follow this one and should maybe read it again. (hide spoiler)]

  24. 5 out of 5

    Raeleen Lemay

    Read for Popsugar's 2018 Reading Challenge #17: A Book that You Borrowed or Received as a Gift I'm so sad I didn't like this one! I really, really enjoyed the title story, which was a fantastic blend of spooky and like... sexual, I guess? I feel like those two aspects were featured throughout most of the stories, but I only enjoyed the way it was done in the first story. The stories had beautiful, lyrical writing, but it's not the type of writing that works well for me, personally.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jonfaith

    The wolfsong is the sound of the rending you will suffer, in itself a murdering. As a rule I don't care for folklore. I also maintain a historical aversion to short stories. What a joy it is then to proclaim my love for these macabre tales of hymens, fogged mirrors, and the gasps of lusts and bloodletting. Ms. Carter's tales are fevered variations on nursery rhymes: Bluebeard, Red Riding Hood Lycanthropes and wee wicked Alice dart from the shadows and dazzle the reader.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Repellent Boy

    Y me encuentro con la gran decepción de lo que llevo de año. Quizás ha influido las ganas y la expectación que le tenía pero vaya chasco más grande. Tenía entendido que Angela Carter tenía un toque muy macabro y gore y no me ha parecido para tanto. De hecho, algunos de estos cuentos, no difieren mucho de los originales o de los popularizados para niños. En esta colección de cuentos Carter va a tomar clásicas historias de hadas y les dará un giro para convertirlas en algo más macabro, aunque, com Y me encuentro con la gran decepción de lo que llevo de año. Quizás ha influido las ganas y la expectación que le tenía pero vaya chasco más grande. Tenía entendido que Angela Carter tenía un toque muy macabro y gore y no me ha parecido para tanto. De hecho, algunos de estos cuentos, no difieren mucho de los originales o de los popularizados para niños. En esta colección de cuentos Carter va a tomar clásicas historias de hadas y les dará un giro para convertirlas en algo más macabro, aunque, como digo, para mí no lo ha conseguido en su totalidad. Es cierto que algunos cuentos están muy bien, como por ejemplo el que da título al libro, el del gato con botas o el de la vampiresa, pero hay otros que no aportan absolutamente nada a las historias que ya conocemos de sobra. Además no entendí la necesidad de hacer dos relatos diferentes para reinterpretar el cuento de La bella y la bestia o el de caperucita. Es como que el segundo relato, cancela el primero. Me ha parecido todo super repetitivo. No sé, me esperaba mucho más. Tenía la sesanción constante de que no terminaban de explotar los relatos. Ni siquiera los que me gustaron bastante, fueron perfectos. Así que, sintiéndolo mucho porque le tenía muchísimas ganas a esta autora, no le puedo poner más nota.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jo

    Angela Carter's collection of short stories are certainly a different way of retelling the fairytales that we know and have grown to love. I enjoyed some of these stories, but some just went completely over my head. I particularly liked the first story "The bloody chamber" It was well written, intriguing, slightly erotic, and pretty haunting. It was probably my favourite, actually. The one I really disliked, was "The snow child" and it was only around five pages long. It certainly had the shock Angela Carter's collection of short stories are certainly a different way of retelling the fairytales that we know and have grown to love. I enjoyed some of these stories, but some just went completely over my head. I particularly liked the first story "The bloody chamber" It was well written, intriguing, slightly erotic, and pretty haunting. It was probably my favourite, actually. The one I really disliked, was "The snow child" and it was only around five pages long. It certainly had the shock factor, and just wasn't what I expected. These stories are definitely creative, and are quite honestly weird, and that may be another reason why I enjoyed them. They didn't blow me away or anything, but it was a weird and wonderful way of retelling fairytales. I will be looking out for more from Carter.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tatiana

    Angela Carter is quite a wordsmith, and she certainly LOVES her commas. Her writing is mesmerizing to be sure. Reading her stories, however, reminded me of reading "Her Body and Other Parties." Some stories went over my head, some I liked, only one I really enjoyed. "The Bloody Chamber" is a must read, IMO. It's a fairly straight forward "Blue Beard" retelling, with a mood kind of like Du Maurier's "Rebecca," but also with an erotic bent. Could have done without the HEA, but oh well. The rest of Angela Carter is quite a wordsmith, and she certainly LOVES her commas. Her writing is mesmerizing to be sure. Reading her stories, however, reminded me of reading "Her Body and Other Parties." Some stories went over my head, some I liked, only one I really enjoyed. "The Bloody Chamber" is a must read, IMO. It's a fairly straight forward "Blue Beard" retelling, with a mood kind of like Du Maurier's "Rebecca," but also with an erotic bent. Could have done without the HEA, but oh well. The rest of the collection is odd - you have two versions of "Red Riding Hood" and two versions of "Beauty and the Beast," plus some werewolves and vampires.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tracey

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book is a collection of 10 stories, fairytales and legends told the Angela Carter way. Which means, they are, gothic, sensual even sexual on occasion and have challenging themes which at the very least are thought provoking. The longest story which is The bloody chamber is 55 pages long, so a novella really and it is scary and dark for the most part :) The shortest story The snow child is a mere page in length but Carter has packed so much into it including suggestions of paedophilia, necrop This book is a collection of 10 stories, fairytales and legends told the Angela Carter way. Which means, they are, gothic, sensual even sexual on occasion and have challenging themes which at the very least are thought provoking. The longest story which is The bloody chamber is 55 pages long, so a novella really and it is scary and dark for the most part :) The shortest story The snow child is a mere page in length but Carter has packed so much into it including suggestions of paedophilia, necrophilia and incest that I really couldn't have stood anymore. Now I'm not one for short stories, I prefer to immerse myself in an authors world for more than a few pages. I am determined to read more collections like this one because it has shown me that in the right hands a short story can be as meaningful and powerful as a 350 page book. This is an excellent book and I cant wait to read my other short story collection by her which is Black Venus. So my rating but only because there are always going to be a couple of stories that resonate less with me than others is going to be 4* which for me and my seeming 'aversion' to short stories is damned good. :)

  30. 4 out of 5

    Zanna

    I was expecting to be made very uncomfortable by Carter's best known work, but FAR from being a pornographic wallowing in sex and violence, I found the book to be a feast for my creative understanding. Gender and power relationships & structures, fantasy and folklore are explored from a critical feminist perspective in a series of tales that excavate, question and challenge the 'latent content' of traditional fairy tales, often by shifting and switching gender and power roles. Some of these s I was expecting to be made very uncomfortable by Carter's best known work, but FAR from being a pornographic wallowing in sex and violence, I found the book to be a feast for my creative understanding. Gender and power relationships & structures, fantasy and folklore are explored from a critical feminist perspective in a series of tales that excavate, question and challenge the 'latent content' of traditional fairy tales, often by shifting and switching gender and power roles. Some of these subversive tales are redemptive and centre on the breaking of binding enchantments. These liberations come at a cost, at times severely compromising. Carter refuses easy narratives of feminine sexuality, dominance and rebellion. The lush surface of delectable language, varying in tone throughout this collection, is a pleasure that sweetens the bitter pills Carter perspicaciously prescribes. @FeministBC hosted a discussion on the book, to which I contributed, though re-reading I can now see my comments are a bit simplistic. It can be found on their blog here In response to readers who found the amount of sexual content objectionable I wrote: "I identify strongly with these comments – I consider myself asexual – but I think Carter is one of far too few writers who describe sex in a useful way. Greer’s classic ‘The Female Eunuch’ provides some laughable examples of ridiculously idealised sex in writing – and shows how they only serve to reinforce objectification of women. I think the unpleasantness of Carter’s beasts and so on is really amusing as well as questioning the idealisation and challenging male dominance and power. Sex under patriarchy has this beastly subtext – isn’t that where victim-blaming and rapist-defending comes from? Boys will be boys – or, when one thinks about the behaviour involved, boys will be beasts…" and "When you say ‘Carter was writing to shock’ I agree, but I don’t think she does so just to sell books, but rather because she sees patriarchal culture in need of strong challenge: powerful weapons of disgust and discomfort. She ascribes agency in all the wrong places and makes us feel how uncomfortable that is – she wants us to ask why we are uncomfortable! I also agree that she has deliberately made it accessible to analysis – she wants people to be able to understand the questions and challenges she poses about the implicit power dynamic in fairytale and cultural norms." and "On Carter’s beasts with ref to sex, I personally feel that partly she is challenging what Greer characterises as the castration of women under patriarchy – women are objects of desire and have completely passive sexual organs while men feel (forgivably uncontrollable) lust etc. In contrast women’s ‘beastliness’ can be tender, as well as bold. But I don’t want to push the beast=sexuality line too far and read out all the nuance! I think Carter uses it, but light-heartedly and to hold up the trope for questioning." and "It seems to me that the original rescued Riding Hood is the one who submits (to the wolf and then the hero – she is powerless), whereas in this story Carter has her turn the power relationship around, but without a fight. This is radical feminism [in original sense, not the recently acquired one of trans-exclusion] really – changing the dynamic without resorting to the male method of coming to blows. We could have a neater reversal where she kills the wolf or escapes, but the communion that transforms both of them is more interesting, and we SHOULD be disturbed by it – we haven’t been permitted to see sex in this way, as communication, or hardly as something initiated by women’s desire, and when sex is permissible it’s in a safe environment with safe men, not wolves." I am going to re-read this book at some point from a more enlightened position...

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