Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

"Wolf-Alice" by Angela Carter (1985)

Angela Carter's short stories are among the most intensely written stories I have read in a long time, enjoyed as if in four star Paris restaurant you have dreamed of dining at for years.  Just don't go into the Kitchen or ask who the odd looking very wealthy old man sitting by himself in the corner might be. As you look about you begin to see the strangeness in this restaurant.  Some of the diners are in the garb of Roma royalty, some in rags, some discuss the architecture of Proust, some the best places to find juicy rats, some conduct international affairs on their mobiles, others snarl out their orders just pointing to what they want.   Some speak a dozen languages, some none, or at least no human language.

"Wolf-Alice" is one of Salmon Rushdie's favorite stories.  In a way oddly parellel to her most read story "The Bloody Chamber" it centers on an odd, secretive wealthy man, a Duke, and a young woman who lives with him in a very strange relationship part fear, part love based on mutual oddness and codependency.  The Duke is a vampire but in Carter's hands this rises above a cliche.  Alice is a  feral child the Duke evidently found with a pack of wolves.  She is now maybe in her early teens and canot speak and rarely stands upright.  Besides the always exquiste prose of Carter, the best thing,for me, about this story was the intricate relationship between the Duke and Alice. Six wonderful pages.

I offer my great thanks to Caroline and Dalia for hosting this event which motivated me to read Carter after too long a hiatus.

Mel u


Delia (Postcards from Asia) said...

That's new, I haven't thought about this story as a mirror to The Secret Chamber. Well, at least the characters in Wolf-Alice found a way to co-exist.
I like the comparison to a restaurant and people in it, I've had a similar feeling when reading her stories, nothing is as it seems and you never know where the big surprise will come from. Great review Mel, I really enjoyed it.

Mel u said...

Dalia, I was reaching in the restaurant comparison!

Caroline said...

I love your restaurant comparison.
I need to re-read this.

Anonymous said...

Wolf-Alice is one of my favorite stories in The Bloody Chamber.

Brona said...

Wolf-Alice and The Tiger's Bride were favourites of mine - I found the twist of embracing our beastly sides very satisfying.

I'd like to explore the psychology of fairy tales again by rereading Bruno Bettleheim's Uses of Enchantment. This week has certainly been one for delving into the deep, dark tales of our subconscious!