I don’t really think that writers, even great writers, are prophets, or sages, or Messiah-like figures; writing is a lonely, sedentary occupation and a touch of megalomania can be comforting around five on a November afternoon when you haven’t seen anybody all day.From the Introduction.
Year published: 1992
Genre: Literary criticism and analysis
This is my third entry in the Bibliophilic Books Challenge.
This volume of selected pieces of literary criticism and analysis by Angela Carter contains essays and reviews selected by her. They are not presented chronologically, so you don’t get much of a sense of development of writing style or ideas, but rather of unity of theme, genre or place.
Carter writes from a personal point of view in many of these pieces, not trying to be objective, sometimes not even bothering to be coy or polite about saying she thinks something sucks, but almost always giving good reasons why. She is at her most venomous in two pieces mentioning cooking doyenne Elizabeth David, while in other pieces she is adoring nearly to the point of worship. Agree with her or not, you can’t but admire her writing style, her strength of conviction and her astute analysis of literary trends, authors and books.
I will not give this book a star rating – in any case it’s always difficult with collections of any kind. Let’s just say I recommend it to anyone interested in literary analysis and criticism, and also to those who would like to be given reasons as to why they should or should not read something. I know I came away from this book with several titles and authors I would like to become better acquainted with.
I will finish this like I started it, with a quotation from Carter:
I spent a good many years being told what I ought to think, and how I ought to behave, and how I ought to write, even, because I was a woman and men thought they had the right to tell me how to feel, but then I stopped listening to them and tried to figure it out for myself but they didn’t stop talking, oh, dear no. So I started answering back.From the Introduction