An Ode to Angela Carter


“I am known in my circle as notoriously foul-mouthed.”
– Angela Carter (1940-1992)

Today is the anniversary of Angela Carter’s death.
Alongside Shirley Jackson, Carter is my favourite author. Both have astounded me with their skill and precision in both their short stories and their novels. My favourite Carter story is ‘The Erl King’, and my favourite novel is the deliciously over-the-top ‘The Passion of New Eve’.
I am very much looking forward to getting my hands on this little gem: ‘A Card From Angela Carter‘ by Sussanah Clapp. And I’m very excited about this celebration of Carter at the Aye Write festival in Glasgow. I also have a ticket for the Marina Warner event, Stranger Magic.

Carter’s writing exemplifies Shklovky’s statement that “art exists that one may recover the sensation of life.” I am currently working on a piece that will highlight how Carter achieves this – the way she defamiliarises clichés, her use of shifting tense, and shifting narrator. I will also be exploring Carter’s clever disruption of gender roles and her portrayal of identity as mutable. Primarily, on the anniversary of her death, it will be a celebration of her poetic and evocative writing.

For now, I will leave you an extract from the story ‘The Erl King’ (from ‘The Bloody Chamber’ collection), which I read to the little read aloud group on National Libraries Day.

“The lucidity, the clarity of the light that afternoon was sufficient to itself; perfect transparency must be impenetrable, these vertical bars of a brass-coloured distillation of light coming down from sulphur-yellow interstices in a sky hunkered with grey clouds that bulge with more rain. It struck the wood with nicotine-stained fingers, the leaves glittered. A cold day of late October, when the withered blackberries dangled like their own dour spooks on the discoloured brambles. There were crisp husks of beechmast and cast acorns underfoot in the russet slime of dead bracken where the rains of the equinox had so soaked the earth that the cold oozed up through the soles of the shoes, lancinating cold of the approach of winter that grips hold of your belly and squeezes it tight.”
– Angela Carter, ‘The Erl King’ from ‘The Bloody Chamber’

(‘The Company of the Wolves’ trailer, co-scripted by Carter, based on her short story)


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