Angela Carter, Fairytales and Adaptation

Yesterday morning I noticed that #UpdateAFairytale was trending on Twitter. Of course I jumped right on board and had a merry time thinking up increasingly bizarre possibilities for contemporary fairy tales. Cinderella as a feminist campaigner against modern day slavery, anyone? Rapunzel sporting a buzz cut? ‘The Three Billy Goats Gruff’ as a parable for the refugee crisis? (Yes, the Troll was an online anti-refugee commentator). Snow White as an activist for disability rights? The Beast finding Beauty within and rejecting toxic masculinity? It was really intriguing to see the themes that could be drawn from these texts.

So, it seemed apt that a few days ago, The Gothic Imagination blog at the University of Stirling posted an article entitled ‘The Eyes of Profane Pleasure: Fairy Tales, Pornography and the Male Gaze in Angela Carter’s “The Bloody Chamber” and “The Erl-King”‘. It’s a very interesting look at Angela Carter’s work in adapting fairy tales. Carter has been incredibly influential on OGOM especially with regards to ‘The Company of Wolves’ conference – I think she was mentioned in most panels. We were also lucky enough to have Sir Christopher Frayling talking about his time with her which was very, very poignant. From a personal point of view, Carter has been one of the most inspirational writers I have ever encountered. She shaped my feminism and seeing her words written on the page, especially in The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories (1979), felt like someone had read the darkest spaces of my dreams and made them narratives.

From the other point of view, not adaptation but returning to the original tales, this series of pictures, ‘If Disney Movies Were Faithful to Their Dark and Twisted Source Material’, imagines scenes from the Disney versions of fairy tales if they had stayed true to the sources. It’s deliciously macabre and a welcome reminder that fairy tales were once the stuff of nightmares and not dreams come true.

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