Stephen Benson


The relation between Angela Carter and the fairy tale has attracted an ever-increasing number of writers, each seeking to account for the nature of the relation, its various aspects, and its distinct contemporaneity. Beginning with a survey of general comments and reactions, this review essay is organized around three broad areas: intertextuality, both as a writerly strategy central to The Bloody Chamber, and, as practiced by Carter, as a particularly feminist mode of textual practice; pornography, including the connection between The Bloody Chamber and The Sadeian Woman, and the possible contextualization of Carter’s fairy-tale narratives within the pornography debates of the late 1970s and 1980s; and finally, the more general question of Carter’s attitude to the fairy tale as a literary descendant of the folktale, and to the notion of the anonymous oral narrator.