Literature Monday: The Bloody Chamber, Angela Carter

When I first entered the Canadian school system, it was through Seneca College’s Liberal Arts program, which was a gateway to continuing education at Uni. It was thanks to that program that I entered the University of Toronto prepared for what the university experience was in Canada; having gone through the sciences in the Philippines for my first degree, switching over to the arts AND being in a new school system was inevitably going to be jarring.

It was at Seneca at York that I met Tanya Ceolin, who taught ENG150. I happened to mention one day that I was drawn to dark, tragic stories, and she said that I should read  Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber. I filed that recommendation away in the back of my mind, and I didn’t really find a copy of the book until three years later.

My experience with this collection of reimagined fairy tales is rather strange. I love fairy tales, myths, and all of their brethren. I love dark, dangerous, tragic tales. During my first read-through, the language used was almost too flowery for me – and yet, the more I delved in, the more I enjoyed myself.

My favourite line comes from The Company of Wolves, the last story in the collection:

That long-drawn, wavering howl has, for all its fearful resonance, some inherent sadness in it, as if the beasts would love to be less beastly if only they knew how and never cease to mourn their own condition. There is a vast melancholy in the canticles of the wolves, melancholy infinite as the forest, endless as these long nights of winter and yet that ghastly sadness, that mourning for their own, irremediable appetites, can never move the heart for not one phrase in it hints at the possibility of redemption; grace could not come to the wolf from its own despair, only through some external mediator, so that, sometimes, the beast will look as if he half welcomes the knife that despatches him.

(Excerpt: The Company of Wolves, from The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter, who I have a strange relationship with.)

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