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The Bloody Chamber: And Other Stories Paperback – January 1, 1990

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Editorial Reviews


"A wonderfully written book, ironical, cerebral, elegant."
—Joyce Carol Oates, The New York Times Book Review

"She writes a prose that lends itself to magnificent set pieces of fastidious sensuality … dreams, myths, fairy tales, metamorphoses, the unruly unconscious, epic journeys, and a highly sensual celebration of sexuality in both its most joyous and darkest manifestations."
—Ian McEwan

"Carter not only switches her narrative into the wholly explicit but turns the passive predicament of the heroine into one in which the convention of female role-playing seems to have no part, only brisk and derisisve common sense, the best feminine tactic in a tight corner. The tales are retold by Angla Carter with all her supple and intoxicating bravura."
The New York Review of Books

"She was, among other things, a quirky, original, and baroque styleist, a trait especially marked in The Bloody Chamber – her vocabulary a mix of finely tuned phrase, luscious adjective, witty aphorism, and hearty, up-theirs vulgarity."
—Margaret Atwood, The Observer

About the Author

Angela Carter (1940 -1992) wrote nine novels and numerous short stories, as well as nonfiction, radio plays, and the screenplay for Neil Jordan's 1984 movie The Company of Wolves, based on her story. She won numerous literary awards, traveled and taught widely in the United States, and lived in London.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (January 1, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014017821X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140178210
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.3 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,374 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Angela Carter (1940-1992) was the author of many novels, collections of short stories, plays, and books for children.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

92 of 93 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 19, 1999
Format: Paperback
On hearing that the writing style of Tanith Lee, one of my favorite authors, had derived in part from that of Angela Carter, I hastened to find a good collection and explore the similarities. I read this book, and while I am not going to compare and contrast the two styles, I am going to rave about Angela Carter. In the collection "The Bloody Chamber" she reworks five familiar fairy tales as well as spinning myriad tales from the werewolf theme and a tragic love-story out of the vampire myth. Each of the stories has its own unique perspective that works both as a stylistic trick and as a function of the story, such as having Puss-in-Boots proudly recount his own exploits, or having Beauty lost to the Beast at a game of cards. The stories are written sensually, reveling in their lush usage of language; the opening of "The Erl-King" smells of rotted leaves in October, "The Lady of the House of Love" casts haunted shadows at the reader's feet. One or two read like deconstructions of familiar tales, such as the surreal "The Snow Child" or "The Werewolf," while others are the old stories, stripped to their framework and then refleshed with Angela Carter's rich prose. All are absorbing, seductive, to read; if words are food, then this is highly caloric chocolate of the finest quality. (The bittersweet tint only adds to the flavor.) Enough of my raving; read the book yourself. For my part, I will be scouring my library for more of Angela Carter's work. You can never get enough chocolate.
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful By "villette" on February 12, 2001
Format: Paperback
"The Bloody Chamber" is a work of literature which transcends genre and unearths the thinly veiled erotic elements of the fairy tale form. Each of the ten stories in this collection are as rich and sensuous as red velvet, it is quite possible to open the book at any page and find yourself immersed in the beauty of the prose. Highlights include the eponymous novella "The Bloody Chamber" (Carter's subversive re-telling of the "Bluebeard" story) and "The Lady of the House of Love", which illuminates the notion of a decaying European aristocracy behind the myth of the vampire.
Carter presents us with two contrasting (yet not conflicting) versions of the "Beauty and the Beast" story with "The Courtship of Mr Lyon" and "The Tiger's Bride". In the former, the fierce nature of the beast is curbed by the gentleness of the female protagonist, whilst in the latter, the heroine discovers the liberating power of the repressed animal aspect of her sexuality. Each story has a feminist flavour, exploring both male and female sexual desire, and the darker domains of eroticism. A book which will increasingly be hailed as a masterpiece in years to come.
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57 of 64 people found the following review helpful By CoffeeGurl HALL OF FAME on September 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
Do you have the courage to enter Angela Carter's quirky realm of magical realism? She is brilliant. BRILLIANT! I love these short stories -- or rather, fairy tales that everyone is familiar with. The stories have very familiar themes, like tragic love stories, werewolf stories and Cinderella-like stories. Of course, Angela added her own ingredients in the stories. There are a lot of elements of sex and a large dosage of magical realism. They are so mind-boggling disturbing that I found myself thinking about them long after I finished reading them. My favorites are "The Lady of the House of Love," "The Snow Child," and "The Werewolf." I marvel at Carter's imagination. She is truly gifted. Her writing style sort of reminds me of Amanda Filipacchi -- a brilliant French novelist. In fact, I wonder if Carter influenced Filipacchi's work. I highly recommend The Bloody Chamber. This isn't for the faint at heart; this is dark literature at its finest!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By R. M. Fisher TOP 500 REVIEWER on May 12, 2009
Format: Paperback
According to the introduction by Helen Simpson in my copy of Angela Carter's "The Bloody Chamber," the author herself is adverse to the description of this anthology as "retold, adult fairytales." Instead she claims that: "my intention was not to do "versions"...but to extract the latent content from the traditional stories and to use it as the beginnings of new stories."

That is as may be, but the truth is that the simplest way to describe "The Bloody Chamber" is to say that it is a collection of reworked fairytales geared toward adult readership. Ten in all, each one is based on an old fairytale, and Carter explores her own personal ideas and understanding of these familiar stories in her "new stories;" being particularly concerned with the metaphorical meanings that are inherent in each one.

Perhaps the best way to describe them is to say that they have echoes of the old symbolism and imagery of the old tales, but act as "remakings" rather than "retellings." As such, what is gathered here is a series of stories that delve into themes of sexuality, femininity, mutability, transformation and the capability of humankind for change and growth. It is not for the faint-of-heart reader, for often these stories can be violent, crude or grotesque. At their core, all fairytales are about two things: life and death, and in "The Bloody Chamber" they are transposed and presented as sex and violence.

Yet there is an hypnotic quality to them in their atmosphere and resonance that kept me hooked (and certainly leaves room for multiple re-reads).

Carter's language is opulent, rich, sensual and complex. That sentence is a preview of what you'll find in this book, as Carter seems to adhere to the general rule that no noun must go without an adjective - or several.
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