Angela Carter and the Modern Fairy Tale

Don’t talk to strangers, especially the unassuming, handsome ones! Our parents drum this into our innocent little minds as kids, usually the first time we walk to school ourselves or the first time we are allowed to play beyond their line of sight. Little did we know then that this wise warning was handed down from 17th century Frenchman, Charles Perrault, and his tale of Le Petit Chaperon Rouge, better known as Little Red Riding Hood. The fairy tale genre continues to thrive and nowadays, it’s a big deal on the big screen. But although evolving, what role does the fairy tale play in the modern world?

WPA poster by Kenneth Whitley, 1939.

ONCE UPON A TIME, fairy tales were used to scar virtues and morals into the minds of young children. However, with children now savvier and more informed than ever, it’s difficult to imagine that their behaviour could be influenced simply by reading The Boy Who Cried Wolf or Little Red Riding Hood.

In her article All the Better to Eat You With, novelist Angela Carter recognises that “the notion of the fairy-tale as a vehicle for moral instruction is not a fashionable one.” So with moral instruction becoming less fashionable, what purpose does the fairy tale now serve?

In 1979, Carter radicalised the fairy tale in her collection of short stories, The Bloody Chamber. Taking great care not to parody or pastiche the fairy tales of the Grimm brothers or Perrault, she creates new stories based on old tales to articulate feminist ideas, explore male sexual desires and subvert the traditional roles of fairy-tale women. But The Bloody Chamber is not one for kids! Read the rest of my article on The Flaneurthe indie art and culture magazine and website

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The Scottish Book Awards 2011: The Breakfast Room by Stewart Conn

Stewart Conn’s poetry collection, The Breakfast Room, has been shortlisted for the 2011 Scottish Book Awards (you can vote for it here!). The book is inspired by and titled after the Bonnard painting of the same name (which features on the book cover).

I thouroughly enjoyed The Breakfast Room, and visual inspiration really helps to create an atmosphere: it’s humorous, warm, moving, and above all, extremely clever. For a taste of the collection, who better to intorduce and read The Brekfast Room than Stewart Conn himself: Continue reading

The Scottish Book Awards 2011: Red Dust Road by Jackie Kay

The Scottish Book Awards 2011So let’s kick things off! In July I will be giving away the four titles that have been shortlisted for The Scottish Book Awards 2011 – find out how to enter the giveaway here! In the non-fiction category, Jackie Kay’s Red Dust Road is one of these titles and I reviewed it a couple of months ago…

Jackie Kay‘s writing oozes ‘normality’, it’s unashamedly honest and at times unapologetically simple. But her personal life has been neither normal nor simple, and her identity has very much influenced her work; a Scottish poet and writer, Kay was born in Edinburgh to a Nigerian father and a Scottish mother. She was adopted at birth by a communist white couple and was brought up in Glasgow.

In Red Dust Road: An Autobiographical Journey, Kay tells us about the journey she took to trace her birth parents. Her journey is a metaphorical and physical one: from Glasgow to Milton Keynes to Aberdeen to Nigeria and back again, to the forked roads and the roads not taken and the long winding roads. Emotionally, the journey is a difficult one, and Kay doesn’t take the easy route. Continue reading

The Scottish Book Awards 2011 Giveaway

To celebrate the 39th year of The Scottish Book Awards, hosted by Creative Scotland, I will be hosting a giveaway!

In the month of July, you will be given the chance to win all of the four titles shortlisted for this years award. Each of which exemplify Scottish literary excellence:

The Scottish Book Awards Creative Scotland 2011

  • Leila Aboulela, Lyrics Alley (fiction)
  • Jackie Kay, Red Dust Road (non-fiction)
  • Stewart Conn, The Breakfast Room (poetry)
  • Sue Peebles, The Death of Lomond Freil (first book)

The winner of the The Scottish Book Awards will have their book named Scottish Book of the Year, and the author will win a whopping £25,000. What’s more, for the first time in the history of the awards, you will be responsible for choosing a winner. The public vote will commence on the 16 May and end on 31 July 2011. So get voting here!! Continue reading

Virginia Woolf’s last letter

I just had to blog about this. Virginia Woolf’s life is a well publicised one. As is her death. On 28th March 1941, sixty-years ago today, she drowned herself by wading into the River Ouse in Yorkshire near her home, … Continue reading