Lyons and Tigers and Wolves – Oh My!

Revisionary Fairy Tales in the Work of Angela Carter

in Critical Survey
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Fairy tales present Angela Carter with a range of subject matter for drawing out the beauty and violence in gender and sexual formations.1 In deconstructing the tales, Carter reveals the false universalizing inherent in many so-called master narratives of the Western literary tradition. Lorna Sage further highlights this strain in Carter’s work, arguing that by ‘going back to these preliterary forms of storytelling … she could experiment with her own writer’s role, ally herself in an imagination with the countless, anonymous narrators who stood behind literary redactors like Perrault or Grimm.’2 Thus, not only do fairy tales provide Carter with a radical content – fundamental and revolutionary – in their sexual and violent manifestations, but they also contest the authorial position, rejecting the romantic and modern authoritative voice in favour of the multiplicity of voices, often female, that have been repressed by the ‘official’ tellings of Perrault, Grimm, or Disney. Once the venue of women – mothers or governesses – passing tales from one generation to the next over the hearth, fairy tales were taken over by male chroniclers of culture in attempts to unify and totalize their belief systems.