Bloody chamber melodies
Painting and music in The Bloody Chamber
in The arts of Angela Carter
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This chapter examines the way The Bloody Chamber intermingles literary, pictorial and musical elements to ground a new aesthetic of reading. Drawing on both aesthetic and psychoanalytic theory, it argues that Carter plays on the traditional gendering of space and time, as well as their related fine arts. She thus uses painting and music to blur the boundaries and implicit hierarchies between genres and genders, but also between the senses to which they appeal, giving prominence to the repressed sense of hearing, which is closely linked to touch. Looking first at ‘The Bloody Chamber’, it shows that it provides a key to a collection which should be read like a score and calls for performative readings, in the musical sense. Broadening the perspective, it then provides an overview of the whole collection as structured around visual, musical, and consequently tactile, refrains in the sense Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari understand them. It demonstrates that Carter thus renews a somewhat stultified genre, which trapped characters and readers into predetermined roles, by turning the very motives that constituted the death trap into a constant de-territorialization process, reviving their capacity to affect her readers and urge them to reconfigure their own relationship to otherness.

The arts of Angela Carter

A cabinet of curiosities

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