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

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Angela Carter On Tales Versus Traditional Short Stories

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. 

I hope to post on at least one more of her tales.  

I offer my thanks to Caroline and Angela for their hard work and enthusiasm. 

Mel u


Anonymous said...

Mel, this is fascinating and really useful. Thank you for posting it!

Caroline said...

Thanks so much for this. Absolutely great. I never thought of this like that but she does make sense.

Brona said...

I liked the idea of writing short stories because she was living in a small apartment at the time - not big enough to write a full length novel in!!
Very Carteresque!

Delia (Postcards from Asia) said...

Thank you for participating in this event, Mel. I hope you'll join us in future reading events, Angela Carter-related or not. :)

She likes Poe, now that made me like her a bit more. :) This has been a very informative article, thanks for posting it.

Mel u said...

Helen- thanks for the comment and visit and I agree

Caroline- thanks for hosting this great event

Brona Joy- for sure I want to learn more about Carter and her work

Dalia- the event was totally well done and the participation was great- I hope to join in more such events