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The Arts of Angela CarterA Cabinet of Curiosities$
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Marie Mulvey-Roberts

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781526136770

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.7765/9781526136787

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‘I resented it, it fascinated me’: Carter’s ambivalent cinematic fiction and the problem of proximity

‘I resented it, it fascinated me’: Carter’s ambivalent cinematic fiction and the problem of proximity

Chapter:
(p.223) 11 ‘I resented it, it fascinated me’: Carter’s ambivalent cinematic fiction and the problem of proximity
Source:
The Arts of Angela Carter
Author(s):

Caleb Sivyer

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7765/9781526136787.00018

This chapter provides a reconsideration of Angela Carter’s relationship to cinema, arguing that she was much more ambivalent about the medium than has usually been acknowledged by scholars. This ambivalence can be observed in Carter’s starkly contrasting remarks about cinema, from her oft-stated love of both classic and experimental cinema to her more critical remarks about Hollywood’s colonization of the world’s imagination and its portrayal of femininity. Drawing on this conceptualization, the chapter locates and explores this ambivalence about images in two of Carter’s texts – The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman and The Passion of New Eve – arguing that the protagonists of both texts are simultaneously fascinated and horrified by cinematic-inspired images of femininity. Drawing also on Todd McGowan’s argument that classic Hollywood cinema holds spectators at a safe imaginary distance from the potentially threatening images on the screen, the chapter argues that rather than creating a critical distance from the illusory images of cinema, Carter actually increases the sense of proximity between her spectator-protagonists and the cinematic-inspired images of femininity. In this way, the chapter argues, her texts arrive at a more robust critique, not only of cinema but of the desires of the spectators.

Keywords:   cinema, gender, spectacle, desire, the gaze

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