By Linden Peach (auth.)
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Extra info for Angela Carter
It raises questions about Morris's autonomy. Where, the novel asks, are the boundaries to be drawn between Morris and Honeybuzzard? To what extent are individuals, both male and female, complicit in acts of intimidation, degradation and violence in which they are not directly involved? Dostoevsky's The Double, to which I referred earlier, suggests the doubleness and sickness of all personality. Carter develops this thesis in Shadow Dance, suggesting that Morris's 'doubleness' is the result of the social construction of masculinity.
Morris, like Desiderio, in the later novel, The lnfernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman, is forced to confront his complicity in the dehumanisation of the objects of his desire. Euro-American Gothic and the 1960s 47 The influence of social discourses in constructing Morris's perceptions is evident in his reading of one of the cards on the tobacconist's notice board: '15-year-old girl seeks riding lessons, own jodhpurs' (p. 22). Morris reads the card as if it were a cryptic advertisement for 'personal services' in a pomographic magazine.
Taking her to an old house, though, he murders her near a plaster crucifix of Christ. The fact that Ghislaine is mutilated in a graveyard and murdered close to a crucifix, on which Honeybuzzard had envisaged taking turns with Morris to lay her, are significant. These details compound the horror arising from the way in which women are seen as 'flesh' and 'meat' - especially as Honeybuzzard also thinks of selling pornographic photographs of Ghislaine on the crucifix. The interrelated but contrasting tropes of flesh signifying pleasure and of meat as signifying economic objectification occur throughout Euro-American Gothic and the 1960s 31 Carter's fiction which seeks to explore the boundaries between themo In The Sadeian Woman, Carter explains: The word 'fleisch', in German, provokes me to an involuntary shuddero In the English language, we make a fine distinction between flesh, which is usually alive, and, typically, human; and meat, which is dead, inert, animal and intended for consumption 0 0 0the pleasures of the flesh are vulgar and unrefined, even with an element of beastliness about them, although flesh tints have the sumptuous succulence of peaches because flesh plus skin equals sensualityo (ppo 137-8) Investigating and challenging the distinction between 'flesh' and 'meat' was not peculiar to Carter's work in the 1960s and not confined to fictiono For example, Carolee Schneeman's performance art piece, Meat Joy, first performed in 1964, was based on what was then a scandalous amount of nudity and 'forbidden' contact with the raw flesh of fish and chickenso Carter's critique of the work of the Marquis de Sade, however, provides a retrospective commentary on how the flesh/meat trope is developed by what happens to Ghislaine in Shadow Dance in distinctive ways and upon the particular dimension of 'body horror' which the novel exploreso As Carter says in The Sadeian Woman: 'Sexuality, stripped of the idea of free exchange, is not in any way humane; it is nothing but pure crueltyo Carnal knowledge is the infernal knowledge of the flesh as meat' (po 141)0 This is reinforced by the proximity of Ghislaine's murder to an image of the crucifixion, one of the assumptions of which it also makes real.
Angela Carter by Linden Peach (auth.)