I have greatly enjoyed reading a few of Angela Carter's magnificent short stories. I have learned a lot from the participants and hosts of Angela Carter Week. The Collected Short Stories of Angela Carter has about forty five stories, including those in her most famous collection The Bloody Chamber. At the end of the full collection there is a very brief note from Carter in which she talks about the differences between Tales versus Short Stories and ways in which short fiction conveys meaning. After reading this I wanted to share it with other participants in Angela Carter Week. I found her remarks on the differences between tales and short stories very illuminating. I knew right she had permanently helped me understand fundamental differences in forms of short fiction. Carter at her best writes classic tales, not short stories. I want to share her invaluable thoughts with those participating in the week.
"I started to write short pieces when I was living in a room too small to write a novel in. So the
size of my room modified what I did inside it and it was the same with the pieces themselves. The
limited trajectory of the short narrative concentrates its meaning. Sign and sense can fuse to an extent
impossible to achieve among the multiplying ambiguities of an extended narrative. I found that, though
the play of surfaces never ceased to fascinate me, I was not so much exploring them as making
abstractions from them, I was writing, therefore, tales.
Though it took me a long time to realise why I liked them, I'd always been fond of Poe, and
Hoffman -- Gothic tales, cruel tales, tales of wonder, tales of terror, fabulous narratives that deal
directly with the imagery of the unconscious -- mirrors; the externalised self; forsaken castles; haunted
forests; forbidden sexual objects. Formally the tale differs from the short story in that it makes few
pretences at the imitation of life. The tale does not log everyday experience, as the short story does; it
interprets everyday experience through a system of imagery derived from subterranean areas behind
everyday experience, and therefore the tale cannot betray its readers into a false knowledge of Experince.