Angela Carter Dramatizations on BBC Radio

Angela Carter

SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie says, “Over here in Brit Cit we have been having an Angela Carter feast courtesy of Aunty.”

This has included on BBC Radio 4

The fantastical story of Sophie Fevvers – aerialist extraordinaire and star of the music hall. Hatched from an egg, Fevvers is part woman, part bird – if you believe her. American journalist, Jack Walser, is determined to discover the truth.

This new adaptation of Angela Carter’s penultimate novel tells the story of the extraordinary, raucous life of Sophie Fevvers, a winged circus performer. The 1984 novel not only won the James Tait Black memorial prize (Britain’s oldest literary prize) when it was first published, but also won the Best of the James Tait Black prize in 2012.

And on Radio 3 — “An Evening With Angela Carter” which is rather long but includes two plays:

VAMPIRELLA

A young Englishman, travelling by bicycle through Transylvania, finds himself at the mercy of a ‘lovely lady vampire’ and her governess.

and

COME UNTO THESE YELLOW SANDS

Carter’s hallucinatory documentary drama about the murderous Victorian painter, Richard Dadd.

Then back on Radio 4 —

Angela Carter’s re-telling of the story of Bluebeard. A young pianist marries a wealthy aristocrat, a Marquis, much older than herself and with three previous wives, all mysteriously deceased. Finding herself alone in the empty castle, with nothing to do but play the piano, she cannot resist entering the one room the Marquis has forbidden to her.

At the time of writing The Bloody Chamber in the late 1970s, Carter was disaffected by both sides of the feminist debate. She re-worked traditional fairy tales from her own unique, literary outsider’s point of view, putting women at the centre of the stories.

With their feisty heroines and orgiastic mash-up of beasts, shape-shifters and ghouls, her extraordinary tales are the most perfect example of her style, not just for her incomparable prose, but also in the dizzying twists and turns of perception, fantasy and myth.

Controversially influenced by De Sade, she embraced the erotic, explored our deepest and darkest urges, and subverted the roles of hunter and prey, master and mistress so that, instead of male sexuality, it is the female that becomes transgressive and powerful.

A hapless maid wandering deeper into the woods encounters the bewitching presence of the Erl-King, the presiding spirit of the forest. She willingly enters his woodland lair and lies with him. But when she discovers that he plans to turn her into a bird and imprison her with the rest of his aviary, she must somehow break the spell.

All of the above are available to listen for next 3 to 4 weeks.

5 thoughts on “Angela Carter Dramatizations on BBC Radio

  1. Oh, man, my buttons! Richard Dadd? The Erlking?? I think I’ll start with the Richard Dadd ep. One day in London the subway we were going to use was full of hut-hutting soldiers, so we walked instead and found the Museum of London, which turned out to have an exhibition going on of Bedlam, which included a work by Dadd (not, alas, “The Ferry Feller’s Master Stroke”), as well as an original by Louis Wain, and even a piece by Jonathan Martin, whose path we’d crossed already (a reference by a guide to an unnamed maniac who tried to destroy York Minster).

    This link is ugly and malformed, but it takes you to a zoomable image of “The Ferry Feller’s Master Stroke,” a painting he spent years on and didn’t finish (bottom left, in particular, is roughed in). I learned of this work, and the other artists, in a book called The Discovery of the Art of the Insane.)

    The Ferry Feller

  2. There’s a stage adaptation of Wise Children opening next month in London, by the way. I’ll be down there about then, so I’m planning to get a ticket.

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