Angela Carter, Gothic Literature, and The Bloody Chamber

the-bloody-chamber-and-other-storiesGreg Buzwell has published an article over at the British Library that traces the Gothic influences on Angela Carter’s stories in The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories. As he writes in his introduction:

“Like every great author of Gothic fiction, Angela Carter was blessed with an intensely vivid and extremely dark imagination. Gothic imagery permeates all of her work but nowhere more so than in The Bloody Chamber (1979), a collection of tales that delights in moonlit forests, graveyards, isolated castles, locked rooms, guttering candles and the howling of wolves in the night.”

Buzwell then proceeds to examine some of Carter’s influences, such as Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849), Charles Perrault (1628-1703) and the Marquis de Sade (1740-1814). He quotes from Carter’s ‘Afterword’ to her first collection of short stories, Fireworks (1974), where she writes:

“I’d always been fond of Poe and [Ernst] Hoffmann – Gothic tales, cruel tales, tales of wonder, tales of terror, fabulous narratives that deal directly with the imagery of the unconscious – mirrors; the externalized self; forsaken castles; haunted forests; forbidden sexual objects.”

As with other articles published by the British Library, Buzwell’s piece features materials held in their archive that you can view, including manuscript notes and drafts for ‘The Bloody Chamber’, a typescript draft for The Sadeian Woman, and related materials such as illustrations by Arthur Rackham for Poe’s ‘The Oval Portrait’. You can read the rest of this fascinating article here.

Greg Buzwell is Curator for Printed Literary Sources, 1801 – 1914 at the British Library; he is also co-curator of a major exhibition on Gothic literature, Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination, which runs at the Library from October 2014 to 20 January 2015. His research focuses primarily on the Gothic literature of the Victorian fin de siècle. He is also editing a collection of Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s ghost stories, The Face in the Glass and Other Gothic Tales, for publication this autumn.


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