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Angela Carter

The Bloody Chamber

   
 

Believe in fairy tales!

   

 

  

 

We have always thought that writing a variation—a prequel, a sequel, any sort of riff—on something literary that already exists is exceedingly difficult to pull off.  Few have succeeded.  Jean Rhys managed to do it with Wide Sargasso Sea, her imagined prequel to Bronte’s Jane Eyre.  And Angela Carter did so brilliantly with her collection of short stories—variations of classic fairy tales—The Bloody Chamber.  The main key to success seems to be in offering up an entirely new language to talk about something familiar to us already.  In Wide Sargasso Sea Rhys brings us something original and wild, to talk about a character from a novel that is as much a part of our literary unconscious as the fairy tales of childhood.  And in The Bloody Chamber, this fantastic, fantastical collection, Angela Carter takes, with each story, a thread from an old fairy tale and spins it into something entirely new and all her own.

This collection of stories is a favorite book—one to curl up with when reality is too much to bear.  Perfect on a stormy evening; all the better to imagine the howling of wolves outside the door, believe that beasts turn into men, and that all kinds of magic is possible.

What we particularly love is the very excess of the book—luxuriating in the very grown-up pleasure of losing ourselves in the unabashed lushness of language, in pure romance, in roses red and white, in the old familiar tales of childhood transformed into something completely new in such ornate and ornamental fashion.  The title story is a retelling of Bluebeard.  There are fabulous gothic variations of Beauty and the Beast, Puss-in-Boots, and Red Riding Hood.  And there is humor and eroticism lurking in the dark lushness.  Give in to excess; believe in fairy tales!

 

 

 

 

 

 

       
 

Read: The Bloody Chamber

Read: Wide Sargasso Sea

 

Tags:  literature    

 

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