The familiar fairy tales in this collection are told in a charming way, but the most enjoyable part of reading them comes in reading their morals at the end. For each story, Angela Carter has written her own moral for us to ponder; like all good lessons, these are worthy of taking note.
Bluebeard: “Curiosity is the most fleeting of pleasures; the moment it is satisfied, it ceases to exist and it always proves very, very expensive.” (As you can see in the illustration above, how distressing it must have been to Bluebeard’s wife to open the forbidden door only to behold the corpses of his previous wives.)
Little Red Riding Hood: “Now, there are real wolves, with hairy pelts and enormous teeth; but also wolves who seem perfectly charming, sweet natured and obliging, who pursue young girls in the street and pay them the most flattering attentions.
Unfortunately, these smooth-tongued, smooth-pelted wolves are the most dangerous beasts of all.”
Puss in Boots: “If a miller’s son can so quickly win the heart of a princess, that is because clothes, bearing and youth speedily inspire affection; and the means to achieve them are not always entirely commendable.”
The Sleeping Beauty in The Wood
: “A brave, rich, handsome husband is a prize well worth waiting for; but no modern woman would think it was worth waiting for a hundred years. The tale of Sleeping Beauty shows how long engagements make for happy marriages, but young girls these days want so much to be married I do not have the heart to press the moral.”
Cinderella: “Beauty is a fine thing in a woman; it will always be admired. But charm is beyond price and worth more, in the long run.” (Which made me think of Proverbs 31:30, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”)
Reading Angela Carter (1940-1992) reminds me in many ways of reading Margaret Atwood (1939 – ) Not only were they born approximately a year apart, they are both magicians with words, wisdom, and fantasy. Each author strikes my heart as if she were more familiar with it than I am myself.
I read this collection for Angela Carter week which starts June 8. After finishing these stories, I ordered Nights at the Circus and then The Magic Toyshop. How could I not, when Miguel said it was one of the best books he’d ever read? So it is with great anticipation that I hope to continue my indulgence with Angela Carter this summer. Thank you, Caroline and Delia, for introducing me to her.