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Transcript of Fairy Tales
Origins of Fairy Tales
Carter's Introduction to Angela Carter’s Book of Fairy Tales (1992)
the term “fairy tale” is a figure of speech and we use it loosely, to describe the great mass of infinitely various narrative that was, once upon a time and still is, sometimes, passed on and disseminated through the world by word of mouth – stories without known originators that can be remade again and again by every person who tells them, the perennially refreshed entertainment of the poor’ (xi)
‘they are also anonymous and genderless' (xii)
Carter, A (2005) Introduction, Angela Carter’s Book of Fairy Tales, ed Angela Carter, London: Virago, xi-xxiv.
Process of change.
Angela Carter (1940-1992)
And they all lived happily ever after...?
Origins of Fairy Tales
Similarities of Fairy Tales
The Function of Fairy Tales
Angela Carter's 'The Tiger's Bride'
What is a Fairy Tale?
a story about fairies or other mythical or magical beings, esp one of traditional origin told to children
a highly improbable account
For most of human history, “literature”, both fiction and poetry, has been narrated, not written – heard, not read. So fairy tales, folk tales, stories from the oral tradition, are all of them the most vital connections we have with the imaginations of the ordinary men and women whose labour created our world’ (Carter's Introduction, xi)
‘the chances are, the story was put together in the form we have it, more or less, out of all sorts of bits of other stories long ago and far away, and has been tinkered with, had bits added to it, lost other bits, got mixed up with other stories, until our informant herself has tailored the story personally, to suit an audience of, say, children, or drunks at a wedding, or bawdy old
ladies, or mourners at a wake – or, simply, to suit herself’ (Carter's Introduction, xii)
Assembled from Fragments
About mothers in Disney films - 'the typical mother is absent, generously good, powerfully evil, or a silent other' (Haas, 196)
Either 'absent, murdered, or replaced' (Bell, Haas, and Sells, 12)
(Above quotes - From Mouse to Mermaid: The Politics of Film, Gender, and Culture, ed. Elizabeth Bell, Lynda Haas, and Laura Sells, USA: Indiana UP, 1995).
‘but if many stories end with a wedding, don’t forget how many of them start with a death – of a father, or a mother, or both; events that plunge the survivors directly into catastrophe’ (Carter's Introduction xx)
Little Red Riding Hood
‘why does royalty feature so prominently in the recreational fiction of the ordinary people? For the same reason that the British royal family features so prominently in the pages of the tabloid press, I suppose – glamour’ (Carter's Introduction, xxi)
Functions of Fairy Tales
‘a fairytale [...] can “find its home anywhere”, it belongs to the timeless, international zone of poetry'(465)
Carter, A (1998) ‘The German Legend of the Brothers Grimm’ in Jenny Uglow ed. Shaking a Leg, London: Penguin Books, 465-468.
Brothers Grimm ‘Household Tales’ - ‘became the
second most popular and widely circulated book in
Germany for over a century, dominated only by the
Bible’ (Carter's Introduction, xvii-xviii)
Bettelheim, B (1991) The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales, London: Penguin Books.
‘he needs – and this hardly requires emphasis at this moment in our history – a moral education which subtly, and by implication only, conveys to him the advantages of moral behavior, not through abstract ethical concepts but through that which seems tangibly right and therefore meaningful to him.
The child finds this kind of meaning through fairy tales’ (5)
‘it is not the fact that virtue wins out at the end which promotes morality, but that the hero is most attractive to the child, who identifies with the hero in all his struggles’
‘the figures in fairy tales are not ambivalent – not good and bad at the same time, as we all are in reality. But since polarization dominates the child’s mind, it also dominates fairy tales. A person is either good or bad, nothing in between […] [this] permits the child to comprehend easily the difference between the two, which he could not do as readily were the figures drawn more true to life, with all the complexities that characterize real people’ (Bettleheim, 9)
Warner, M (1994) From the Beast to the Blonde: On Fairy Tales and their Tellers, London: Chatto and Windus
Fairy tales ‘seemed to offer the possibility of change, far beyond the boundaries of their improbable plots or fantastically illustrated pages’ (xii)
‘more so than the presence of fairies, the moral function, the imagined antiquity and oral anonymity of the ultimate source, and the happy ending (though all these factors help towards a definition of the genre), metamorphosis defines the fairy tale’ (xv-xvi)
The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories -
collection published in 1979.
10 short stories, including "versions" of:
Bluebeard, Puss in Boots, Snow White, Little
Red Riding Hood, and Beauty and the Beast
nterview with John Haffenden, 1984:
‘my intention was not to do “versions” or, as the American edition of the book said, “horribly adult” fairy tales, but to extract the latent content from the traditional stories and to use it as the beginning of new stories’ (36)
Haffenden, J (1984) ‘Magical Mannerist’ in The Literary Review, 34-38
The Marquis de Sade (1740-1814)
Angela Carter, The Sadeian Woman, 1979
Sade - imprisoned in multiple prisons, including the Bastille
Carter, A (2009) The Sadeian Woman: An Exercise in Cultural History, London: Virago Press.
‘women do not normally fuck in the active sense. They are fucked in the passive sense and hence automatically fucked-up, done over, undone. Whatever else he says or does not say, Sade declares himself unequivocally for the right of women to fuck […] he urges women to fuck as actively as they are able’ (31)
‘Justine is the thesis, Juliette is the antithesis; both are without hope and neither pays any heed to a future in which might lie the possibility of a synthesis of their modes of being, neither submissive nor aggressive, capable of both thought and feeling’ (91)
Gamble, S (1997) Angela Carter: Writing from the Front Line, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
‘are no children’s bedtime stories or cosy fireside flights into fabulation. On the contrary, they are fierce, dark, erotic, gothic and, as the title itself suggests, frequently dripping with gore’ (132)
The Bloody Chamber
The Tiger's Bride
‘my father lost me to the Beast at cards’ (51)
‘evidence of conditions from past social and economic arrangements co-exist in the tale with the narrator’s innovations: Angela Carter’s Beauty is lost to the Beast at cards, a modern variation on the ancient memory, locked into the plot of “Beauty and the Beast”, that daughters were given in marriage by their fathers without being consulted on the matter. The matter of fairy tale reflects such lived experience, with a slant towards the tribulations of women, and especially young women of marriageable age’ (Marina Warner, xix)
‘my mother did not blossom long; bartered for her dowry to such a feckless sprig of the Russian nobility that she soon died of his gaming, his whoring, his agonizing repentances’ (52).
‘my English nurse once told me about a tiger-man she saw in London, when she was a little girl, to scare me into good behaviour, for I was a wild wee thing and she could not tame me into submission with a frown or the bribe of a spoonful of jam. If you don’t stop plaguing the nursemaids, my beauty, the tiger-man will come and take you away’ (55-56)
‘for now my skin was my sole capital in the world and today I’d make my first investment’ (56)
‘my master’s sole desire is to see the pretty young lady unclothed nude without her dress and that only for the one time after which she will be returned to her father undamaged with bankers’ orders for the sum which he lost to my master at cards and also a number of fine presents such as furs, jewels and horses - ’ (58)
‘you may put me in a windowless room, sir, and I promise you I will pull my skirt up to my waist, ready for you. But there must be a sheet over my face, to hide it; though the sheet must be laid over me so lightly that it will not choke me. So I shall be covered completely from the waist upwards, and no lights. There you can visit me once, sir, and only the once’ (59)
‘the door swings open and out glides a soubrette from an operetta, with glossy, nut-brown curls, rosy cheeks, blue, rolling eyes; it takes me a moment to recognise her, in her little cap, her white stockings, her frilled petticoats. She carries a looking glass in one hand and a powder puff in the other and there is a musical box where her heart should be; she tinkles as she rolls towards me on her tiny wheels’ (59)
‘since I could toddle, always the pretty one, with my glossy, nut-brown curls, my rosy cheeks’ (52).
‘this clockwork twin of mine’
‘my double’ (60)
‘we have dispensed with servants […] we surround ourselves instead, for utility and pleasure, with simulacra, and find it no less convenient than do most gentlemen’ (60)
‘I was a young girl, a virgin, and therefore men denied me rationality just as they denied it to all those who were not exactly like themselves, in all their unreason’ (63)
‘I certainly meditated on the nature of my own state, how I had been bought and sold, passed from hand to hand. That clockwork girl who powdered my cheeks for me; had I not been allotted only the same kind of imitative life amongst men that the doll-maker had given her?’ (63)
‘mask with a man’s face painted most beautifully on it’ (53)
‘a great, feline, tawny shape whose pelt was barred with a savage geometry of bars the colour of burned wood. His domed, heavy head, so terrible he must hide it’ (64)
‘I therefore, shivering, now unfastened my jacket, to show him I would do him no harm. Yet I was clumsy and blushed a little, for no man had seen me naked and I was a proud girl. Pride it was, not shame, that thwarted my fingers so; and a certain trepidation lest this frail little article of human upholstery before him might not be, in itself, grand enough to satisfy his expectations of us, since those, for all I knew, might have grown infinite during the endless time he had been waiting’ (64)
‘I felt I was at liberty for the first time in my life’ (64)
‘the tiger will never lie down with the lamb; he acknowledges no pact that is not reciprocal. The lamb must learn to run with the tigers’ (64).
Beauty ‘refuses the role of victim. She refuses to be a lamb. The tiger reveals his animality beneath the human mask and she, asserting himself, does the same’ (Aidan Day 142-143).
Day, A (1998) Angela Carter: The Rational Glass, Manchester: MUP.
‘my maid, whose face was no longer the spit of my own, continued bonnily to beam. I will dress her in my own clothes, wind her up, send her back to perform the part of my father’s daughter’ (65)
‘the key to a peaceable kingdom in which his appetite need not be my extinction’ (67)
‘each stroke of his tongue ripped off skin after successive skin, all the skins of a life in the world, and left behind a nascent patina of shining hairs. My earrings turned back to water and trickled down my shoulders; I shrugged the drops off my beautiful fur’ (67)
Sarah Gamble: ‘Both Beauty and Beast in this story thus shrug off the disguises that society forces them to assume, and in this way the predator/prey dichotomy is shattered with the establishment of a harmonic and mutually beneficial relationship between man and woman’ (Writing From the Front Line, 134)
Aidan Day: ‘Beauty won’t be fucked, as victim, by the Beast, as aggressor; nor will she, as aggressor, fuck the Beast, as victim’ (Angela Carter: The Rational Glass, 147)