Feminine freakishness: Carnivalesque bodies in Angela Carter’s nights at the circus

O'Brien, Wendy 2006, Feminine freakishness: Carnivalesque bodies in Angela Carter’s nights at the circus, Genders, no. 44, pp. 1-20.

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Title Feminine freakishness: Carnivalesque bodies in Angela Carter’s nights at the circus
Author(s) O'Brien, Wendy
Journal name Genders
Issue number 44
Start page 1
End page 20
Total pages 20
Publisher University of Colorado
Place of publication Boulder, Colo.
Publication date 2006
Summary Angela Carter described herself as being in the “demythologisingbusiness” (“Notes”, 38) and in her 1984 novel Nights at the CircusCarter’s interrogative scope is both broad and complex. The wingedaerialiste Fevvers and the rag-bag of circus freaks with whom shejourneys evoke the Rabelaisian carnivalesque that Bakhtin cites as apowerful challenge to the spatial, temporal, and linguistic fixities of themedieval world. The transformative and regenerative potential ofRabelais’ grotesque is evident in Nights' temporal setting, whichforegrounds the possibilities of birth through death. Set at the “fagend” of the nineteenth century (19), the characters are witness tohistory on the cusp as “[t]he old dying world gives birth to the newone” (Bakhtin, 435). Here Carter has shifted the point of historicalregeneration from Rabelais’ subversion of the Neo-Platonic medievalcosmology to, rather hopefully, symbolize the demise or at least thederailment of the Age of Reason, industrial progress, Imperialism, andtheir respective ideologies of misogyny. For Fevvers and Walser theexcess of the carnivalesque prompts a crisis of subjectivity thatsignals both the redundancy of restrictive ideologies of demarcationand hierarchy, but also the playful possibilities of corporeal fluidity andreferential relativism.
Language eng
Field of Research 180114 Human Rights Law
Socio Economic Objective 940499 Justice and the Law not elsewhere classified
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2006, University of Colorado
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30078410

Document type: Journal Article
Collection: School of Humanities and Social Sciences
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