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The Merchant of Shadows

Angela Carter, 26 October 1989

... I killed​ the car, and at once provoked such sudden, resonant quiet as if, when I switched off the ignition, I myself brought into being the shimmering late afternoon hush, the ripening sun, the very Pacific that, way below, at the foot of the cliff, shattered its foamy peripheries with the sound of a thousand distant cinema organs. I’d never get used to California ...

Mise-en-Scène for a Parricide

Angela Carter, 3 September 1981

... Early in the morning of the fourth of August, 1892. Hot, hot, hot ... very early in the morning, before the factory whistle, but, even at this hour, everything shimmers and quivers under the attack of the white, furious sun already high in the still air. Its inhabitants have never come to terms with these hot, humid summers – for it is the humidity more than the heat that makes them intolerable; the weather clings like a low fever you cannot shake off ...

Angela and the Beast

Patricia Craig, 5 December 1985

Black Venus 
by Angela Carter.
Chatto, 121 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 0 7011 3964 1
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Come unto these yellow sands 
by Angela Carter.
Bloodaxe, 158 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 906427 66 5
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Mainland 
by Susan Fromberg Schaeffer.
Hamish Hamilton, 285 pp., £9.95, October 1985, 0 241 11643 0
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The Accidental Tourist 
by Anne Tyler.
Chatto, 355 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 0 7011 2986 7
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Arrows of Longing 
by Virginia Moriconi.
Duckworth, 252 pp., £9.95, October 1985, 9780715620694
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... Angela Carter’s Black Venus is Baudelaire’s Creole mistress Jeanne Duval, whose hair the poet once likened to a sea of ebony, among other things; his enchantment and her disenchantment figure in the story, the first in an inspiriting new collection of eight by an inveterate scrutiniser of the whole romantic box of tricks ...

That which is spoken

Marina Warner, 8 November 1990

The Virago Book of Fairy-Tales 
edited by Angela Carter.
Virago, 242 pp., £12.99, October 1990, 1 85381 205 6
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Sisters and Strangers: A Moral Tale 
by Emma Tennant.
Grafton, 184 pp., £12.95, July 1990, 0 246 13429 1
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... means it’s a pipedream. But the message of the Tongue Meat fable is borne out by the volume Angela Carter has edited: the jokes and exempla and folk-tales here will be meat and drink to women (and maybe to other people too). She writes in her introduction that ‘this is a collection of old wives’ tales, put together with the intention of giving ...

Falling in love with Fanny

V.S. Pritchett, 5 August 1982

Memoirs of a Midget 
by Walter de la Mare.
Oxford, 392 pp., £3.50, May 1982, 0 19 281344 7
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... in his ‘sedulous ape’ period; so too, later, is the bookish cross-bred Borges. Miss Angela Carter, whose preface speculates here on his famous novel Memoirs of a Midget, glances at Borges and goes on to the possibility that de la Mare may be the only English Surrealist, but one with a manner that has what she calls the ‘sheen’ of ...

Diary

Anne Enright: Lessons from Angela Carter, 17 February 2011

... I met Angela Carter in the spring of 1987 when I was a student and she a tutor on the MA in creative writing at the University of East Anglia. My work had over the course of the previous winter gone from bad to worse. I was 24, I had no idea how to live in the world, let alone write about it; and the self who was supposed to produce some kind of narrative by the end of the year seemed increasingly fugitive and fragmented ...

Diary

Susannah Clapp: On Angela Carter, 12 March 1992

... Last month Birnam Wood came to Putney Vale Crematorium. Or so it seemed. As the attenders at Angela Carter’s funeral emerged from the chapel, surrounding trees began to rearrange themselves. They shifted and they sprouted feet. They marched – and they dispelled themselves. They shook themselves free of foliage and dwindled ...

Stand the baby on its head

John Bayley, 22 July 1993

The Oxford Book of Modern Fairy Tales 
edited by Alison Luire.
Oxford, 455 pp., £17.95, May 1993, 0 19 214218 6
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The Second Virago Book of Fairy Tales 
edited by Angela Carter.
Virago, 230 pp., £7.99, July 1993, 1 85381 616 7
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... to be soft and sticky. The best are startling and mysterious but also commonplace. Before she died Angela Carter made a few notes for what was to be the introduction to her second collection of traditional tales. ‘The unperplexedness of the story. Fairy tales – cunning and high spirits.’ That comes as close as anything. The unperplexedness of the ...

Walking backward

Robert Taubman, 21 August 1980

Selected Works of Djuna Barnes 
Faber, 366 pp., £5.50, July 1980, 0 571 11579 9Show More
Black Venus’s Tale 
by Angela Carter.
Next Editions/Faber, 35 pp., £1.95, June 1980, 9780907147022
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The Last Peacock 
by Allan Massie.
Bodley Head, 185 pp., £5.95, April 1980, 0 370 30261 3
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The Birds of the Air 
by Alice Thomas Ellis.
Duckworth, 152 pp., £6.95, July 1980, 0 7156 1491 6
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... for she carried her betrayal money in her own pocket.’ This, from Nightwood, comes close to Angela Carter in Black Venus’s Tale: ‘Seller and commodity in one, a whore is her own investment in the world ... but Jeanne never had this temperament of the tradesperson, she did not feel she was her own property and so she gave herself away to ...

Hairy Fairies

Rosemary Hill: Angela Carter, 10 May 2012

A Card from Angela Carter 
by Susannah Clapp.
Bloomsbury, 106 pp., £10, February 2012, 978 1 4088 2690 4
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... Angela Carter didn’t enjoy much of what she called ‘the pleasantest but most evanescent kind of fame, which is that during your own lifetime’. She was known and admired, but on nothing like the scale that has caused her to be described since her death in 1992 at the age of 51 as ‘one of the 20th century’s best writers’ and inspired Lambeth Council to name a street in Brixton after her ...

Bewitchment

James Wood, 8 December 1994

Shadow Dance 
by Angela Carter.
Virago, 182 pp., £9.99, September 1994, 1 85381 840 2
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Flesh and the Mirror: Essays on the Art of Angela Carter 
edited by Lorna Sage.
Virago, 358 pp., £8.99, September 1994, 1 85381 760 0
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... Angela Carter’s first novel, Shadow Dance, is a bold, leathery, coarse book. It summarises thinly its author’s later adventures and preoccupations, as the chapter headings in a picaresque novel do its hero’s: Gothic entropy, sexual ambiguity, personality as masquerade, the theatre of theatre. It is a first wispy cloud in what would become a boiling sky; it casts a small shadow ...

Stories of Black and White

Michael Wood, 4 October 1984

In Love and Trouble: Stories of Black Women 
by Alice Walker.
Women’s Press, 138 pp., £7.50, September 1984, 0 7043 2852 6
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Nights at the Circus 
by Angela Carter.
Chatto, 295 pp., £8.95, September 1984, 0 7011 3932 3
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Democracy 
by Joan Didion.
Chatto, 234 pp., £8.95, September 1984, 0 7011 2890 9
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... The freedom to juggle with language, Angela Carter suggests, is a promise and perhaps an instrument of other freedoms. Certainly her own cheerful jokes bespeak a lively independence of hallowed prejudices. ‘It’s very tiring, not being alienated from your environment.’ ‘It won’t be much fun after the Revolution, people say ...

Pine Trees and Vices

John Bayley, 9 April 1992

The Oxford Book of Gothic Tales 
edited by Chris Baldick.
Oxford, 533 pp., £16.95, March 1992, 0 19 214194 5
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... Reverend Rochemont Barbauld (a perfect name for the genre) went mad in 1808 and committed suicide. Angela Carter, who has identified de Sade’s victims as among the first feminists, because incipiently conscious stereotypes of woman solely for man’s use, melded the Gothic with fairy-tale to produce new and stylish ideological fantasy, notably in the ...

A New Kind of Being

Jenny Turner: Angela Carter, 3 November 2016

The Invention of Angela CarterA Biography 
by Edmund Gordon.
Chatto, 544 pp., £25, October 2016, 978 0 7011 8755 2
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... In​ 2006, the British Library bought a huge archive of Angela Carter’s papers from Gekoski, the rare books dealer, for £125,000.* It includes drafts, lots of them, a reminder that in the days before your computer automatically date-stamped all your files book-writing used to be a clerical undertaking. It has Pluto Press Big Red Diaries from the 1970s, and a red leatherette Labour Party one, tooled with the pre-Kinnock torch, quill and shovel badge ...

It’s only a paper moon

Patrick Parrinder, 13 June 1991

Wise Children 
by Angela Carter.
Chatto, 234 pp., £13.99, June 1991, 0 7011 3354 6
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... Shakespeare in the educational and cultural life of the nation. What a relief then, to come upon Angela Carter’s new novel, an uproarious Bottom’s-eye view of Bardolatry and Bardbiz, full of cardboard crowns, asses’ heads, and actors strutting, fretting, singing and dancing! Wise Children will give pleasure to thousands of readers, and it ...

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