Daddy’s girls and the Gothic fiction of maternity
in Decadent Daughters and Monstrous Mothers
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This chapter explores the matricidal impulse that underlies the education of the Sadeian Gothic heroine. The Sadeian Woman exposes the illusory freedom granted to the daddy's girl who operates within the patriarchal structures of the pornograph. It is equally engaged with challenging mythologised notions of motherhood and the maternal emerging from Anglo-American second wave feminist celebrations of the 'mother goddess'. The mother's return to save the daughter from the Sadeian libertine is dramatically restaged in 'The Bloody Chamber', an extravagantly literary re-writing of Charles Perrault's seventeenth-century fairy tale 'La Barbe Bleue'. Nights at the Circus is often described as an exemplary 'postmodern' or, owing to its emphasis on performance and the circus, 'carnivalesque' text. However, the prevalence of Sadeian and decadent Gothic topographies situates the novel within a European Gothic tradition.

Decadent Daughters and Monstrous Mothers

Angela Carter and European Gothic


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