Angela Carter: Writing from the Front Line

By Sarah Gamble | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6

If Angela Carter began the 1970s regarding her culture from a perspective of disenchanted alienation, by the 1980s she had found her niche in both personal and professional terms. She had grown up in London, which made her settling in Clapham in the late seventies a kind of homecoming. It is a move which is echoed in Carter's later fiction, for her use of the urban landscape in her final novels Nights at the Circus and Wise Children is in some ways reminiscent of her use of Bristol as the setting for her early work. Although Nights at the Circus is primarily structured around the picaresque form, and so moves constantly from place to place, the strident Cockney voice of the heroine nevertheless ties it irrevocably to London. The action of Carter's final novel, Wise Children, is based more firmly in defiantly unfashionable, slighdy down-at-heel Brixton. But for neither the author nor her books did this settling-down preclude the occasional excursion off into the exotic elsewhere. Just as Carter now spent much of her time travelling, both in Britain and abroad, so the characters in her novels journey to America, Russia or Siberia. Unlike the rootiess wanderings of so many of her earlier picaresque characters, however, these travel secure in the knowledge that they always have a home to come back to. The dominant voice in Carter's fiction changed too, becoming more gossipy, colloquial and stridently female.

If Carter had 'come home' geographically speaking, she had also found a place for herself professionally. Her reputation by now established, she was an exceedingly busy person. She continued to write short stories, essays, radio plays and screenplays (as well as the 1984 film The Company of Wolves, she also adapted The Magic Toyshop for Granada Television in 1987). She still contributed to New Society (although less often now that she didn't need the money), edited a collection of short stories for Virago in 1986, Wayward Girls and Wicked Women, and was

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Angela Carter: Writing from the Front Line
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Angela Carter: Writing from the Front Line iii
  • In Memory of Mark iv
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Introduction 1
  • I - Autobiography and Anonymity 11
  • Chapter 1 13
  • II - Living on a Demolition Site 37
  • Chapter 2 39
  • Chapter 3 66
  • III - Mad Scientists, Drag Queens and Fairy Godmothers 91
  • Chapter 4 93
  • Chapter 5 118
  • IV - Flying the Patriarchal Coop 143
  • Chapter 6 145
  • Chapter 7 168
  • Epilogue 190
  • Select Bibliography 192
  • Index 197
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