Thursday, 14 April 2011

Book Review: Heroes and Villains by Angela Carter

I first discovered Angela Carter's writing at university, studying her collection of short stories 'The Bloody Chamber'. This was Carter's take on fairy tales, but not the saccarine fairy tales of childhood and Disney films, rather bloodthirsty, dark and erotic tales written for adults, just as the original fairy stories were intended. She later edited collected volumes of traditional and international fairy stories.
Carter was a British writer and jounalist, known largely for her feminist and magic-realism works. She was a true lover of language, and this is evident in the beautiful, complex vocabulary used in her writing. She is one of my heroes for this, and of course because of her gothic stories which questioned society, culture, sexuality and most importantly, gender. Sadly, Carter died aged 51 in 1992 from lung cancer, but is considered one of Britain's greatest writers.
'Heroes and Villains' is a dystopian gothic fantasy where society has split into goups of Professors, Barbarians and deformed 'Out People'. Marianne is the feisty heroine who embarks on a journey away from a life she knew in the Professors' towers, to an unfamiliar decaying world, and a twisted romance with a beautiful Barbarian named Jewel.
As always, Carter's language is lush, bringing this nightmarish world to vivid reality. Marianne makes for an unconventional protaganist; fearless except for the prospect of losing her autonomy. Jewel is a deliciously sordid love interest and antagonist.
Sublime imagery and rich language.
A must read for anyone who loves gothic and magic-realism.

1 comment:

  1. "Sublime imagery and rich language." I agree! I thought that a lot of the language was unnecessarily cryptic though, and ultimately, a bit meaningless...