The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter, Illustration Competition – House of Illustration / Folio Society
Sadly my illustrations for this Competition to illustrate Angela Carters book, The Bloody Chamber didn’t get shortlisted. Boo hoo. Sob sob!
Still, you gotta be in it to win it, and I have long been a fan of the Folio Society books. Maybe next year! Besides this book is a diamond! If you haven’t read it I couldn’t recommend it highly enough.
The Bloody Chamber is a reworking of old fairy tales. I read all the stories, although the brief was to illustrate, The Bloody Chamber (the retelling of Blue Beard), Puss in Boots and The Company of Wolves (retelling of Little Red Ridding Hood).
Angler Carter was a master story-teller, these stories are rich and sumptuous. Angela Carter gives them all more depth and meaning and layers them with lots of references to culture and literature. I’m sure i missed at lot, but one of the strongest themes running through the book is the potent power of female sexuality.
The Bloody Chamber
“You never saw such a wild thing as my mother”
The Bloody Chamber is the reworking of the fairy tale, Bluebeard. For those who aren’t familiar with the story; rich man takes young wife, takes her to his castle, say’s you can go anywhere you like in my house apart from this one room, never go in there under any circumstances. You guessed it, curiosity gets the better of her, she goes in while her husband is away to discover the bloody corpses of his ex wifes, nasty! He comes home unexpectedly and discovers her infarction, attempts to kill her but is rescued at the last-minute bu her brothers.
Angela carter uses this story as a foundation for her own Tale, It is much more sexual and mysterious. It’s written from the point of view of the girl. Her sexual desires are mirrored against those of a sadomasochist. The darker side of heterosexuality, sadomasochism and the idea of fatal passion are explored.
Puss in Boots
“The death defying triple somersault”
Puss in Boots. Narrated from Puss’s point of view, Angela Carter re-works this fairy tale with aplomb! Puss is a charismatic masterpiece! He is a raconteur, a master of innuendo, witty and deft. At first he is disappointed with his master for having fallen in love with a young woman kept in a tower. But Puss falls for a striking looking tabby himself! Part pantomime, part romance part romp!.. great!
Angela Carter had described Puss in Boots as “the Cat as Con Man… a masterpiece of cynicism… a Figaroesque valet — a servant so much the master already”
The Company of Wolves
“She saw how his jaw began to slaver and the room was full of the clamour of the forest’s Liebestod but the wise child never flinched”
The Company of Wolves (Red Riding Hood) is retold, like The Bloody Chamber there is more of a stench of sexuality rather than the whiff that is in the original telling.
The girl is young and poised on the edge of womanhood, she recognises her sexual power. Angela Carter tells us in lavish lovely detail about how sly and slippery the man/wolf is, all lice, grease, teeth and balls. We are given an introduction of wolf kind that would make you wish our heroine wouldn’t set a pretty like foot in that dark forest to visit granny!
She maybe young and innocent, but she is fearless. This and her female power give this tale the most unexpected ending… yum,yum!
Cover illustration – The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
This is a rough for the cover of the book. The brief for the cover was to either use one of the stories, or a general feeling for the whole lot. I choose to use “The Company of Wolves” to bring out the themes of female sexuality in the book. The cover is it be printed on fabric, usually one or two colours.