Poe, Baudelaire and the decomposing muse
in Decadent Daughters and Monstrous Mothers
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This chapter explores Angela Carter's engagement with and reworking of the figure of the deathly muse in the work of Edgar Allan Poe and Charles Baudelaire, two of her most influential and persistent literary models. In 'The Philosophy of Composition', Poe outlines, with specific reference to 'The Raven', the procedure by which some of his poetic works were put together. Carter's ironic restaging of the monstrous muse in the 'The Cabinet of Edgar Allan Poe' and 'Black Venus' engenders a process of re-composition, an exhumation of the muse that Poe wants to bury and Baudelaire wants to debase. Carter acts here as a decadent daughter, exchanging the maternal muse for a paternal muse that is at once apostrophised and subordinated in the aesthetic process. Poe and Baudelaire respectively dematerialise into dust and ashes. De-composed, the male artist/muse disappears back into the Gothic mirror.

Decadent Daughters and Monstrous Mothers

Angela Carter and European Gothic


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