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Carter, Angela

magic feminist circus realism

(British, 1940–92)

Carter, often regarded as an exponent of magic realism, is known for Gothic, erotically charged tales derived from folklore and myth. But she was also a feminist critic interested in sexual politics; The Sadeian Woman (1979), for instance, reinterprets de Sade as potentially liberating, and there is a polemical undercurrent to almost all her fiction. The Magic Toyshop (1967) concerns orphaned children who go to live with their mysterious uncle, an inventor, and focuses on the awakening sexuality of an adolescent girl. Her fascination with the disturbing occupants and contents of the house leads to a destructive climax. Some of the stories in Fireworks (1974) are informed by Carter's two years in Japan, for instance ‘The Loves of Lady Purple’; a prostitute turns into a stage puppet, then kills the puppet-master and regains human form. The Bloody Chamber (1979) formed the basis of Neil Jordan's 1984 film The Company of Wolves, showing Carter's rewriting of fairy tales as feminist fables. Her most widely acclaimed novel, Nights at the Circus (1984) is an exuberantly theatrical re-creation of turn-of-the-century London, featuring Fevvers, a larger-than-life trapeze artist with wings, and other exotic characters. The story follows Colonel Kearney's circus across Siberia to St Petersburg and contains numerous adventures and reversals.

Jorge Luis Borges, Jeanette Winterson, Elizabeth Jolley. See MAGIC REALISM, SOCIAL ISSUES  JS

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