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Carter, Angela

KURT KOENIGSBERGER


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The richness and capaciousness of Angela Carter's fiction sometimes evokes nothing so much as the circus ring in her novel Nights at the Circus ( 1984 ) which serves as a microcosm of the world at large. Indeed, Carter envisioned the capacities of fiction to be as expansive as the world itself. She contended that “fiction can do anything it wants to do. I think it can do more things than we tend to think it can.” Her idea of the novel in particular was positively unbounded: “anything that wants to call itself a novel is a novel, by definition” (1985b [1984]). On the other hand, Carter's stories and novels present models of the world that are frequently intimate and bounded: her work eschews carefully plotted generic closure in favor of a series of carefully crafted set pieces and tableaux. Perhaps the best way to grasp the shape of her fiction across her career is to understand it as a series of tightly woven exhibitions strung together – along with significant collections of fragments of other narratives, poetry, and popular culture opened to narrative view. Her substantial body of fiction, written over a span of three decades, evinces a stubborn resistance to the generic and substantive bounds of bourgeois fiction, demonstrating that narrative can display previously unexplored possibilities. To the extent that her writing systematically breaches norms of genre and decorum, her ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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