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Storming the Sadeian Citadel: Disturbing Gender in Angela Carter's Fiction of Transition
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
2002 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This study demonstrates how Angela Carter’s textual contention with the works of the Marquis de Sade forms an interstice, chronologically, thematically and narratively, between the early and late works in Carter’s oeuvre. This period of fictional transition and unrest is exemplified by

The Sadeian phase in Carter’s writing can be seen as part of a feminist project. I demonstrate how she raids the Sadeian texts not only to explore and parody expressions of oppressive masculine desires, but also to disrupt and destroy the masculine domain of supremacy. The privileging of the masculine is continually thrown into relief as Carter investigates representations of femininity produced by the social and cultural structures. While the texts of transition show woman performing gender by citing cultural scripts and reiterating gender norms, Carter also explores how this repetition can be disrupted by mimicry or misquotation.

The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman, Fireworks, The Passion of New Eve, and The Bloody Chamber. I argue that by persistently treating the Sadeian sexualisation of the world as part of, and not as a deviation from, the norm, Carter’s texts disturb the representation of gender within the restrictive patriarchal hierarchy of power.

Carter’s fiction cites and repeats excessive violence, however I propose that this is balanced by her belief in the possibility of change. In particular

The Bloody Chamber explores a space of in-betweenness where masculine and feminine, self and other meet. This tentative space - the most ambitious of Carter’s projects - questions not only the construction of the self, but also of the self in relation to the other. It is the space of "erotic generosity" that foregrounds the question of ethics, not only feminist ethics, but also the ethics of being.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Department of English, Stockholm University, Stockholm , 2002. , 176 p.
National Category
General Literature Studies
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-21952OAI: diva2:188479
Public defence
2002-09-07, Hörsal 9, hus D, Universitetsvägen 10, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Available from: 2007-12-18 Created: 2007-12-18 Last updated: 2009-12-15Bibliographically approved

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