Penguin Books, 1979, 128 pages
The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories is a titillating series of dark, sensual and fantastical stories, inspired by well-known fairy tales and folklore.
Dissatisfied with the unrealistic portrayal of women in these legendary fables, Carter turns them on their head, introducing subversively dark, sensual and gothic narratives.
Breathing new and unexpected life into favorite childhood characters such as Red Riding Hood, Bluebeard and Beauty and the Beast, Carter shocks, seduces and amuses the reader with her unique, iconic and surrealist reimagining.
Angela Carter's famous volume of feminist retellings of traditional fairy tales is written in a lush style that, with its frank descriptions of sex and violence, is truer to the originals than the Disneyfied versions of Beauty and the Beast or Little Red Riding Hood, even if Carter puts a non-traditional spin on them.
Here, the women usually end up turning the tables on the would-be predators. Bluebeard is shot through the head by an angry avenging mother; the Big Bad Wolf is dealt with by a lycanthrope-savvy Little Red, and the Beast is tamed by a Beauty who's having none of this "Daddy had to send me over to pay for that rose he plucked out of your garden" bullshit.
Angela Carter's writing is lush and sensual and all those other adjectives every other reviewer uses to describe it. It's her feminist answer to all those tales of women getting ravished, sold, eaten, or dismembered by fairy tale villains. While this has been done a lot in recent years, when she wrote it it was probably a little more transgressive, and her writing talent was undeniable. I'm looking forward to reading some of her original horror.
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