In an English market

Tom Paulin

  • Nothing Sacred: Selected Writings by Angela Carter
    Virago, 181 pp, £3.50, October 1982, ISBN 0 86068 269 2

In Roman mythology, the god Terminus presides over walls and boundaries. He expresses the ancient doctrine that human nature is limited and life irredeemably imperfect. Terminus agrees with Robert Frost in saying ‘good fences make good neighbours’; and he also takes a classical view of artistic creation by insisting on formal constraints and closed symmetry. Although Terminus inhabits hedges and drystone walls, he is not a property of pastoral verse, and this is because pastoral writing, like fantasy writing, is a convention which licenses an imaginative freedom from reality. In fantasy literature the result is the ennui of Utopia, a luminous envelope that absorbs the world.

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