Dolls, dreams and mad queens
in Decadent Daughters and Monstrous Mothers
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Following on from the discussions of the virtuous Sleeping Beauty and the monstrous muse, this chapter explores how the female body is dreamed (up) in the Gothic imaginings of psychoanalysis and surrealism. With its waxworks, clockwork dolls, dark doubles and automata, uncanny repetitions and phantasmal projections, the Gothic gives form to what Terry Castle describes as the 'spectralization' of human thought since the eighteenth century. Brimming with automata, dolls and mannequins, Angela Carter's writing is inhabited too by a macabre cast of toy-makers, puppet-masters and mad scientists. Foregrounding the chess queen as a figure of enthralling and deathly sexuality, the chapter suggests that the logic of the chessboard offers a vocabulary for rethinking the dark eroticism and intertextual geometries of Carter's texts. Carter's fiction explores in particular the uncanniness of the marionette as another site for the conjunction of female sexuality and death in the European Gothic imagination.

Decadent Daughters and Monstrous Mothers

Angela Carter and European Gothic


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