Angela Carter: Writing from the Front Line

By Sarah Gamble | Go to book overview

EPILOGUE

It is no accident that Angela Carter's most memorable characters are all, in one way or another, performance artists, for they echo their author's own bravura performance; poised perfectly, as well as perilously, 'on the edge' of propriety, convention and classification. But while it is easy to conceptualise marginalisation in terms of estrangement, solitude and silence, I hope that this study has demonstrated that for Carter it was nothing of the sort. Envisaged through her writing, the margins are transformed into a place of life, colour and movement, a discursive area where the writer can engage with a multiplicity of theories, ideas and fantastic notions, and feel free to mix them into often startling combinations.

Nevertheless, Carter was not blind to marginalisation's negative aspects; something which is conveyed particularly clearly in much of the fiction she wrote at the beginning of her career, where countercultural subversiveness merges almost imperceptibly into madness, death and moral exhaustion. In early novels such as Shadow Dance and Several Perceptions, the beautiful, decadent figure of the dandy demonstrates Carter's awareness of the risks she runs constructing herself as marginal subject, who must not only resist the pud towards the centre and reintegration with the mainstream, but also the risky drive to push still further outwards, until one has passed entirely beyond the boundaries of communication and meaningfulness. Embodiments of this contradictory balancing trick, Honeybuzzard retreats into mayhem and madness, while Kay Kyte brings redemption and reconciliation to his 'floating world' of misfits.

In her writings of the seventies, however, Carter reacts against an increasingly reactionary culture by moving towards a more overt anatomisation of the marginal state: a cultivation of the 'stranger's eye' which it is impossible not to read as also being linked to her own experience of being a foreigner in Japan. The central characters of such

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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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