Read Heroes and Villains by Angela Carter Online


Penguin blurb: After the apocalypse the world is neatly divided.Rational civilization rests with the Professors in their steel and concrete villages; marauding tribes of Barbarians roam the surrounding jungles; mutilated Out People inhabit the burnt scars of cities....

Title : Heroes and Villains
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780140119305
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 160 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Heroes and Villains Reviews

  • Ryl
    2019-05-21 12:01

    This book made me so angry I went out and picked a fight with someone after reading it because I couldn't yell at the characters. I haven't had a book piss me off this much in a long, long time. I ended up dropping it down a storm drain to prevent another innocent person from reading this drek.Let's start with the minor annoyances first. This is a post-apocalyptic novel published in the late 1960s. There are certain aspects of this genre that I was fully prepared for, one of which is the passive-voice flowery language that clouds the reality of the world the characters are living in. This book took it to extremes by adding a layer of pseudo-intellectualism. Maybe it was real intellectualism, maybe I just don't know enough about sociology to recognize the Really Deep Insights I was supposed to be getting about decaying societies (I've heard of Levi-Strauss, a name that the characters kept throwing around, but I know nothing of his work), but all I know is that it was getting annoyingly pretentious after a while. Pretentiousness is one of the worst offenses any novel can commit in my world so this book is already starting off on a low bar.Here's an example of the pretentious language that set me off so much:Apart from these stray contacts, she defended herself by denying him an existence outside the dual being they made while owls pounced on velvet mice in the forest, the moon passed through its phases and the idiot boy howled disconsolately in his kennel. This third thing, this erotic beast, was eyeless, formless and equipped with one single mouth. It was amphibious and swam in black, brackish waters, subsisting only upon night and silence; she closed her eyes in case she glimpsed it by moonlight and there were no words of endearment in common, anyway, nor any reason to use them. The beast had teeth and claws. It was sometimes an instrument solely of vengefulness, though often its own impetus carried it beyond this function. When it separated out to themselves, again, they woke to the mutual distrust of the morning.That, dear readers, is a sex scene.I was prepared for the importance of sex to the plot after reading the back cover blurb and checking the publication date (1969). In one of Anne McCaffrey's books, (I think it was Get Off the Unicorn) she prefaces one of her short stories with a note that in the late 1960s you had to include a sex scene if you wanted to get published in the science fiction world. The blurb mentions Marianne's "virginal fantasies," so I knew going in that she was going to have lots of hot barbarian sex. What I did not know was that it was going to be hot barbarian rape fantasies.Here's a good indicator of how the times, they are a-changin': when Marianne tries to escape from the barbarian camp, she is easily tracked down by Jewel. She sits in a tree while he mocks her until she gets mad enough to jump down and fight him. He pins her down, rapes her, and then tells her that now they have to get married. She's more angry than anything after this, but it's okay because deep down she really wanted him to rape her. After their marriage, she goes into a kind of fugue state where she only really comes alive at night when they're having another bout of rough sex (see the above quote). It gets so obvious that she really loves being raped that at one point, when she's arguing with Jewel, he looks at her and says "You're creaming for me now, this very minute." I, personally, found that to be unnecessarily vulgar. Marianne totally gets off on it, though. She's always telling Jewel "I hate you," but it becomes clear near the end that she really means "love" instead of "hate." Because, you know, a semi-abusive sexual relationship is just so romantic.Eventually Marianne gets pregnant and tries to cheat on Jewel by raping the thirteen-year-old "half-wit" of the tribe (I guess it's contagious). At this point I gave up on any hope of this book ever making any kind of good sense. Jewel hits Marianne a couple of times and this is portrayed as worse than any of the raping. The third time he hits her, she puts a "curse" on him and he dies in a suicide rescue mission. When she learns that Jewel is dead, Marianne declares that she will become the "Tiger Queen" and rule the tribe with an iron fist. Suuuuuuuuuure she is. The girl that everyone in the tribe hates, the girl that has people making signs to ward off the evil eye whenever they see her, the girl who can't even take care of herself in the wild, she is going to be the next leader of the tribe. She's going to be left for the mutants to eat in a week.

  • Rachel
    2019-04-26 05:54

    Gods.I can't properly review Angela Carter - her books just seem to reach into my subconscious, grasp hold of me, and refuse to let go. It's always a strange experience to read others' reviews of her work, which debate symbolism and characterization and political message. All those things are very clear to me when reading, but I feel so little need to comment on them, because the book itself feels so true. This is how the world is; or, more properly, this is how the world is for me. Every other sentence is a great truth that I have just been waiting for Carter to articulate to me. Yes, it is hyper-intellectual, witty metaphor, but we live in metaphors. Our minds are paved, wallpapered, founded upon the texts we take into ourselves. Conscious heteroglossia.Heroes and Villains has the hazy contours of a dream but, within those contours, the rich detail of memory. It takes place in a sharply divided post-apocalyptic world, but mostly within the mind of the heroine Marianne, a child of the privileged and sequestered Professor class, who runs away and joins the Barbarians. Carter does not shy away from the grittiness of her premise - more even than the vivid, matter-of-fact violence and appreciated her attention to dirt, to unpleasant smells, to the diseases that result from such conditions. The power of the choice between safety and freedom, between order and chaos is given more weight because the freedom/chaos is unromanticized (though, it other ways, it is a deeply romantic, fantastical image - gothic, in the truest sense of the word. I hope Mario Praz would approve). Like all of Carter's works, it does not benefit from being summarized (the one exception is The Passion of New Eve, because summarizing that one to a naive audience is absolutely hilarious. Try it some time). It is a deeply erotic, and a deeply devastating book. Grief and mental illness run through it like a vein of sulfur. I expect that most survivors of sexual violence will find it triggering, but it also feels very much as though it was written for us survivors, whispering truths into our ears that the outside world will never understand. Inside the wild, bright colored images there is always this hard, brutal truth, like a heartbeat - This is how it is.I don't know if this is just me. It very well might be.

  • Jonathan
    2019-04-21 07:57

    A little heavy handed at times, and showing its age a little (published in 1969), but great fun nonetheless.Complete Review review here

  • Seonaidh Ceannéidigh
    2019-04-20 04:56

    At times great, at times muddled, Carter's post-apocalyptic fairytale [that is, minus any fairies] manages to both dazzle and sometimes bore, if only because its initially-strong-heroine [Marianne] becomes strangely passive-aggressive as the novel and the adversity wears on. The climax is replaced by a wind-down, the best part of which is a nightly stroll by a seaside resort, unfortunately capped with the disappointing off-page exit of its lead male character; a young man named Jewel who is strangely ennui-ridden and verges on being a villian himself [he kills the brother of the lead character and later rapes her]. The characters have a habit of waxing on, addressing and attacking one another in elaborate ways, and it is in dialogue that Carter stumbles. This world of Professors and Barbarians and Out-People is a mixed bag of interesting concepts, brilliant poetic writing, and oft-muddled metaphors and descriptions that tend to go astray.EDIT: May, 2013.Re-reading does a lot to help the novel. My initial disappointment with, say, the ending, may have been tempered by contemporary post-apocalyptic fiction, which tends to require that the hero cast out the villain in a climatic duel. Going back to it, the ending seems quite sobering, realistic (concerning the wordless and off-page exit of Jewel) and the 'meandering' of the prose simply vanishes when you know in advance that this isn't a story that is heading towards one central conflict, but is rather a meditation on civilisation vs. barbarism. Jewel's ennui still grates somewhat, but his role as a living social experiment is better defined. His role as a 'grey' character is more appreciated. Marianne's dialogue still seems strangely formal, but makes sense in the light of her education and upbringing; same with Jewel.I've either grown more patient since 2011, or have become a more rounded reader. Hopefully both.

  • Rafaela
    2019-04-22 04:05

    [There was a review here. It's gone now.]

  • Leslie
    2019-04-21 07:01

    This is the story of a professor girl who chooses to exempt herself from her clan by faking her own suicide and running off with a red hot barbarian with raven plaits and a six pack. You probably won't believe me, but this hunk's name is Jewel (?!?).It is a familiar story: headstrong girl meets headstrong boy. They come from opposite sides of the track. They butt heads until sparks fly and ignite the brittle hay that lines their foolish hearts. Then their parts are on fire! Angela Carter does her signature twisting/blurring of binaries: rapist/survivor, barbarian/professor, hero/villain, needs/desires. If you want to spice things up in your feminist book club, suggest this title. Make sure you feminist-proof your apartment. There will be infighting and things will get heinous! This book is by no means anti-feminist, it is just complicated (which is how I like it!).A quote: "I think that in the long run, I shall be forced to trust appearances. When I was a little girl, we would play heroes and villains, but now I don't know which is which any more, nor who is who, and what can I trust if not appearances?"This was rather slow for me at first, but it got better and better. Fans of this brand of romcom who want something lite should check out this fave of mine: Princess Routine.

  • Craig
    2019-05-16 05:09

    Everything signifies something here, as evidenced by references to Levi-Strauss, tattoos of biblical proportion, charcoal slogans scrawled on walls which only one character can read and folkloric myth mixed with pagan and commercial, Western marriage ritual. Carter is playing with all of these concepts and connecting them to her usual deft explorations of gender interaction/ conflict. Carter tropes at work: the mutual hate between men & women; raped into marriage; characters who are complacent and complicit in their own physical/ spiritual downfalls; masks/ costumes that are encoded and subsequently decoded I was pulled in by the promise of a post-apocalyptic landscape, but as other reviwers have noted, that isn't really what you're getting here. This one is certainly slow to snag my interest. It isn't until the halfway point that the book almost picks up with a reveal connecting the characters. But that revelation does little to move things along, as very little (if anything) actually happens here. It is as if plot is crushed under the big picture concept of it all. And certainly Carter has never been slave to plot, but not even the characters are sufficiently interesting here to keep my interest. To that, the book takes a casual tone with rape, which might be troubling to some readers. There is also a "cougar" pedophile scene and numerous scenes of violence against women.

  • Lena
    2019-05-09 12:02

    Can Angela Carter do anything wrong? No. That is my definitive answer.I haven't read even half of what she has published but the very idea of Carter's death preventing her from writing anything new makes me profoundly sad. I wish I could make literally everyone read something of hers.

  • Sara
    2019-05-21 08:56

    The Times described Heroes and Villains as 'an unashamed fantasist, a fabulist of daemonic energy' – and it really is. This is an incredibly loaded book, and every time I’ve tried to review this I’ve ended up word-vomiting a bad fragment of one or one hundred failed essays that could be written about it. This time will be no different (but I’ve hit the ‘well, let’s just get it done’ try). I think the difficulty is down to the fact that rereading the novella I was more aware of what was trying to be achieved here, and I possibly ended up thinking TOO much about it (to the tune of 9 sides worth of unreadable notes) rather than feeling as much this time around. Regardless of all that, this is weird Angela Carter all over: worlds, characters and experiences that are rendered in narrative brutal, dreamy, a door hard to open for some of the prose written as much as it’s an open field of beautiful synesthetic imagery in other places. ‘Sometimes I dream I am an invention […] On the nights I have these dreams, I have been known to wake the entire camp with my screams.’To me Heroes and Villains is a loose companion piece to The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman and The Passion of New Eve because of the renegade Doctor Frankenstein figures in each novel who all create a kind of invention that they envisage will bring the world to rights as they see fit. Carter underpins each work with overt symbolism and ideology that is questioned by the protagonists, subtly de-clothed in narrative and also critiqued in how connotations of traditional symbols/thought beliefs are sometimes misguidedly reinforced by the Doctors in their attempts to subvert the order. In Heroes and Villains where there is the possibility in a post-apocalyptic world to start afresh without names, rituals or beliefs of old, it just seems impossible. The people are still so informed by signs and symbols of a destroyed civilisation to escape the ‘crumbling anachronisms’ which still endure (whether understood as they are by Marianne, or not in the case of some Barbarian members) and are carried on. The world presented in this particular novella relies on dichotomies: the Professors cannot live without the Barbarians ‘the other’, needing these tribe to define themselves as upholders of reason and progress; an argument between Donally and Jewel regarding Marianne only serves to reinforce the matriarchal myth of Eve or her foil, the demonic Lilith. I read this great essay (‘Deconstructing the Womb’) which from what I remember said that Carter is wary of using myths to celebrate one’s identity or an experience – she sees it as a potential trap. For example, Marianne as ‘Eve at the end of the world’: using matriarchal myths to elevate the status of womanhood – it doesn’t subvert far more than what it serves to reinforce the view of women as vehicles for future descendants. She uses Marianne’s character, a History Professor’s daughter who “broke things to see what they were like inside” to expose the cracked veneer of the academic world she comes from which assesses and studies the environment around (to the point of madness), as well as mocking the sham superstitious beliefs of the Barbarian tribe when she becomes involved with them. Nevertheless there’s the overwhelming sense of fatality felt by Marianne who is seen by the makeshift-shaman Donally as the tribe’s ‘little holy image’ alongside his protégé Jewel (who is more than compelling whilst he struggles in his role as a social experiment). It’s hard to tell if Marianne jokes about becoming the Tiger Lady of the tribe, because surely she would see it’s kind of the same tyranny Donally imposed: the status quo will essentially remain the same, all there is changed is the face and flavour.If Marianne is made to feel like Miranda, Donally as Prospero, his son taking the surface role of Caliban (but a good fool underneath), then Jewel is a ‘furious invention’ indeed. Too educated for the tribe, yet educated in the wrong way to ever cross worlds like Marianne and Donally to live amongst the professors. He is the only one to survive Donally’s manipulations and teachings, the previous girl and boy died in the progress of being tattooed with stripes. It is because of this that Donally sees Jewel as a son, more of a son than “the half-wit” he has biologically; Jewel is a masterpiece of an invention which he brands and continues to define, limit (for one he refuses to teach Jewel how to read) and destroy in fear of a rebellion, and in turn, as an usurper son, Jewel tries his luck at destroying Donally too. There’s a part early on in the novella where Marianne asks Jewel if barbarians die of madness, because there is a number of cases where madness has led to suicide and homicide in the towns of the Professors. Jewel answers with a list of physical diseases that the Barbarians die of instead. In some ways that hit me most this time, because I remember in my house that my parents and those around in the neighbourhood at that time didn’t recognise depression as an illness, they just saw it as a middle-class triviality – I guess they saw it as when you’re busy surviving, there’s no time for luxuries like living, I don’t know (because there was a lot of madness there as well). Anyway, the first time you read a book you forget these little lines, but reading the ending with the above conversation in mind, it made it very poignant and depressing. Here’s this boy: ‘everywhere I go I’m doomed to be nothing but an exhibit’ who can’t really find a place in either world, so he falls back on what Donally has made of him whilst fighting Marianne in how she ‘converts him’ by looking at him. There is a lot more you could say regarding orientalism in terms of Barbaric tribe/Jewel, and nothing that Carter romanticises stupidly either in my opinion. Any ‘exotic’ description is immediately pulled down by Jewel or made so overt it becomes a parody. I’d like to see some essays written on that actually. The ties between Donally, Jewel and Marianne become ludicrous at points: all detest the other to the point of wounding each other in some way (whether branding, rape and forced marriage, infidelity and the possible betrayal of tribe), but are magnetically attracted for one reason or a complete lack of reason. The relationships between all three is best described as such: ‘They arrived at the green road and stood looking at one another, in a sudden last uncertainty as to where their true allegiances lay, for the young man and his tutor had the strange attachment of years between them, the girl and her husband the bemused attraction a sense of fatality and the girl and the magician the bond of a common language. And the girl and the young man, also each suffered from the loss of a father.’Dialogue:The dialogue reigns supreme here in my opinion. I showed a bit of dialogue to a friend of mine who found it incredibly unrealistic and I’ve read this opinion a couple of times now “Carter just can’t do dialogue”, but I love it. Honestly. The prose in this book is already riddled with words that all seem to be there for reason and some level of meaning, nothing is left to chance, this is only reflected in the dialogue. Some of which I get, some of which I don’t, but like the sound of (because we’re all prone to fancy like that). One of my favourite exchanges:‘Who do you see when you see me?’ She asked him, burying her own face in his bosom.‘Do you want the truth?’She nodded‘The firing squad.’‘That’s not the whole truth. Try again.’‘Insatiability,’ he said with some bitterness.‘That’s oblique, but altogether too simple. Once more,’ she insisted. ‘One more time.’He was silent for several minutes.‘The map of a country in which I only exist by virtue of the extravagance of my metaphors.’‘Now you’re being too sophisticated. And besides, what metaphors do we have in common?’The closest I’ve ever got to this in real life is “I’ll decimate you” “Not before I devour you.” – I think if I asked someone the same question as above and they replied back with “the firing squad” I’d be compelled to do something ridiculous like marry them – this also goes for Oscar Wilde/Sarah Bernhardt “Mind if I smoke?” “I don’t care if you burn” exchange.Bonus Material: Donally’s Aphorisms- BOREDOM IS THE HANDSOME SON OF PRIDE - ONENESS WITH DESTINY GIVES STYLE AND DISTINCTION - MISTRUST APPEARANCES, THEY NEVER CONCEAL ANYTHING - MEMORY IS DEATH - OUR NEEDS BEAR NO RELATION TO OUR DESIRES - THE WORLD BECOMES A DREAM AND THE DREAM, A WORLD - I THINK, THEREFORE I EXIST; BUT IF I TAKE TIME OFF FROM THINKING, WHAT THEN?[first read in 2012, this review was written January 2014 & you can also find this on wordpress]

  • Zee
    2019-05-07 04:17

    I am now pretty certain that no one ever really gets used to Angela Carter's brand of vitriolic love or her genre-defying characters. I mean, when I try to figure out 'Heroes and Villains', I really struggle to put a label on what I have just read. Instead I come up with crazy statements like: it's a futuristic fairytale with elements of creation mythology that registers roughly on the ultraviolet section of the story-telling rainbow. Yeah. It's like THAT. The main ingredients of a typical Carter novel are a fistful of folktale blueprints, which are then stripped from all the pretty 'Perrault' restraints and marched at gunpoint into the roiling, ascerbic crucible of the author's mind. And from this magician's melting pot which consists of a curious alchemy of brains, barbarism and wily femininity come out twisted versions of the tales themselves; genetically spliced monsters that would and could turn upon themselves at the slightest provocation. Actually, imagine the cannibalistic fairies that feature in 'Pan's Labyrinth' and you're more than halfway there to figuring out just how brutal Carter can be in her own re-telling of events.Take our main character for example, one bony slip of a girl called Marianne, who quite literally grows up in an ivory tower surrounded by luxuries. The tower and her social status as a professor's daughter places her as the 'princess' of the story. A quick glance outside those castle walls and we instantly see how privileged she really is; as only two other caste systems remain in this bleak post-apocalyptic world. The dreaded barbarians are the 'noble savages' made up of wandering gypsies, thieves and vagabonds. Then there are the Out-People; a genetically corrupt version of humanity that have devolved into monsters. From these Carter makes up the misunderstood 'other' who are not as intellectually inferior as they seem and the half-man, half-monster types that would rank among the minotaurs and Centaurs of ancient mythology. The sad irony of this is that even though the latter group emulate the glory of demi-gods, the reality is quite the opposite as Carter marks their existence as unnatural and the undoing of man. Marianne therefore surprises us when she tires from her closeted upbringing and decides to defect into the wilderness with a dangerous barbarian who is held captive in the fortress. Even worse is the fact that she runs away with the very boy who murdered her own brother. So begins a very strange tale of love (if love it can be called) between a savage and a professor's daughter as they form an odd alliance that can only be described as a type of Stockholm Syndrome. Within the span of the story, Marianne shows her true colours, as her life with the savage tribe exposes her to vulgarity and sexual assault. Male/ female relationships are brought down to their bare primal essentials and we realise how Marianne is made of much, much sterner stuff. As the story progresses we see how Marianne by instinct has finally found the place where she is most happy; beside the beautiful but violent raven-haired Jewel. As a reader I enjoyed the progression of their relationship, this unlikely romance that would go sour in some places and then pick up again when you least expected it. There story is underpinned by the Adam and Eve mythos, and this also handsomely features in the form of a grotesque tattoo on Jewels torso of the scene where Eve offers Adam the forbidden fruit. In fact, Jewel is somewhat of a synthetic messiah; a puppet controlled by the ominous 'Doctor'; a madman who is trying to fabricate his own religion using members of the savage tribe. Jewel with his imposing physique and handsome looks doubles as Adam, Jesus and other religious characters. So, dystopian fiction or post-apocalyptic nightmare; barbaric romance or feminist literature, you read and decide.

  • Jamie
    2019-04-30 06:04

    I'd say 3.5 on this one, but would willingly bump my rating up to 4 for Angela Carter--who, even when not in tip-top shape, is simply incomparable in so many ways.The long and short of it: Heroes & Villains is basically a novel of ideas, as is frequently the case with Carter. Here, as in something like 'The Infernal Desire Machines of Dr. Hoffman,' the ideas are more at the forefront than, say, character development or flowery prose. It's ostensibly a post-apocalyptic novel, though not in the Orwellian or even Atwoodian sense; there's no explanation, there's no flashing back to the past, there's honestly very little nostalgia for what preceded this particular incarnation of the world. It's more of an evolutionary approach to the dystopia, as if, naturally, we could regress at any time & perhaps (as seems to be the case with the Barbarians) begin again. The battle is between the Barbarians and the Professors, and neither primitivism nor intellectualism are let off the hook in Carter's biting critique (well, in fact, I suppose the primitivism at hand is more or less a construct of the intellectuals, and *that* othering process is being critiqued). Marianne is our heroine, but almost all of the characters feel a bit like conduits (not unusual for a Carter novel), so if you're particularly attached to realistic characterization, you may want to stray from this novel. Basically, Marianne begins the novel as a typical fairytale orphan; despises the tedium of 'city' life; decides to return to the natural world; becomes entrenched in a Barbarian tribe. Adventures ensue. Violence, sexual assault, mythic structure, provocative ambiguities--all the qualities that make Carter so distinctive are at hand, but when I closed the final page, I almost felt as if it was like a super long short story rather than a novel. Not my favorite work by her, but it was a fun ride.

  • Nate D
    2019-04-24 07:15

    Oh, this one really pushes some buttons. People expecting a proper post-apocalyptic adventure are disappointed. People are distressed with the problematic central "romance". Anyone expecting anything like the clear categories of the title are certainly going to be somewhat put out. But amid cynical reflections on the collapse of civilization -- the grim struggles of those who have cast it off, and the erosion of purpose in the hold-outs behind their walls -- what Angela Carter seems to be attempting is some kind of deep analysis of problematic relationships themselves. The tyrannies of need and desire. It's going to be frustrating because people make decisions with which they themselves can only be frustrated all the time. Though not to say that this isn't imperfect -- she hasn't here reached her later streamlined state of clarity of word and purpose, and the long slow tangle of emotions as the relationship runs its course leads to a little circularity. Though I'm not bothered by the sci-fi aspects at all. To my mind this is not adventure being bogged down, but an exploration of dismal relationship movements granted a strange and inventive metaphorical landscape to unfold in. Which is to say that the imperfections do nothing to diminish my general obsession with Carter right now.Oh, also, there are many covers of this, but the 80s penguin reprint I've got is gorgeous and gets it exactly right:

  • Lotte
    2019-05-19 04:03

    Heroes and Villains is like the literary equivalent of a Hieronymus Bosch painting. Strange, oddly fascinating, unnerving and probably quite exhausting if you look at it for too long. I can't say that I liked it, yet at the same time I couldn't stop reading. This is one of those books where either everything means something, or nothing means anything at all. I suspect Angela Carter was trying to achieve the former. I'm not sure she succeeded at it. She kept me wondering throughout the novel though - and maybe that's the point?I feel like there's a lot more that I could say about it but my thoughts are pretty disjointed right now, so maybe I'll revisit it later.

  • Oliver
    2019-04-27 03:52

    what is this even?

  • Rachel Porcher
    2019-05-04 05:17

    The thing about Angela Carter is that even when she's mediocre, she's mediocre Angela Carter, and even when you're flipping through going "meh," and "wow, this is dated," and "what exactly are you trying to do here," everything is still written in the most glorious prose. Much can be forgiven an author who writes passages like this:She never felt that time was passing for time was frozen around her in this secluded place where a pastoral quiet possessed everything and the busy clock carved the hours into sculptures of ice.and this:She lost the very idea of time, for the Barbarians did not segment their existence into hours, nor even morning, afternoon and evening but left it raw in original shapes of light and darkness so the day was a featureless block of action and night of oblivion.(I'm not sure why all my favorite passages had to do with the passage of time, that's just how it panned out.)But yeah, as a novel, this really didn't work for me, and went steadily downhill from its opening. As a piece of aesthetics, well. It's Angela Carter. 'nuff said.

  • Helen
    2019-05-02 04:57

    This was such a beautiful, poetic read. Now I must read all her books for Angela Carter's writing is utterly mesmerizing.

  • The London Bookworm
    2019-05-18 06:50

    I went on something of an Angela Carter binge recently because I was writing short stories of my own. But to read Carter is to entirely immerse yourself in a world that is so vivid, intense, visceral and so emotional has left me emotionally bereft and unable to read anything else for a while. No one writes like Angela Carter, she was truly one of a kind and her novel (novella? i'm never too sure about the difference) is no exception. Set in a marvelously ambiguous post apocalyptic world we the reader tails Marianna; daughter of a professor in twisted society where people live in tight knit society that feed on the weak and unhinged.

  • Ron
    2019-04-29 07:51

    The 'heroine' of this novel is more anti-hero, though not in the popular modern sense of an iconoclast determined to fight the establishment. She is deeply inured to the fascist, class-based apocalyptic society in which her father calls outsiders the 'arbitrary children of calamity...who must take the leavings.' Feeling little attachment to her friends, she rescues one of the barbarians and allows herself to be rescued by him by taking part in a brutal scenario that is not as it seems. Enraptured by a more primitive mode of living, she nonetheless displays great arrogance, is utterly sure of herself, even as she begins to question the heroes and villains on both sides of the divide (admitting that the leisure of her professorial society is what brings madness). The theme of fear as the ruling passion is explored by a disgraced professor who is now among the barbarians, even as Marianne is ruled by anger. She is aghast to be asked to be kind or told that she doesn't understand, acting cruel all along and mystified that she is understood by other yet cannot understand what she sees in the eyes of her husband, Jewel. She petulantly savors the aggression she brings to antagonizing him, turning every moment into drama and conflict, dismissing his very real psychological fears with the feminine bias that violence exists only on the physical and sexual planes. When her focus becomes about the omnipresent death in that camp, she smugly asserts that she has become the focus of his moral guilt in a wrongly superior manner. She seems to be realizing an epiphany sexually, time frozen into the senses of taste, smell, and touch, obliterating the more purely abstract intellectual senses of sight and sound, though still afraid to see herself reflected in his eyes and displaying love and tenderness. She nonetheless denies his existence outside of sex to defend herself, and she no longer sees all that he provides as anything other than abstraction. At this point she begins to confuse need and desire, trying always to put them in separate categories, and her boredom and exhaustion begins at last to erode her complacent sense of self. Still, she lapses into betrayal with its immediate sorrow and regret, goes limp at the notion he might die and that he had given her an undeserved term of endearment, aggressively pursuing him sexually to make amends. In the end, he admits to his desperation and she pushes him away, demanding again to be left alone. It is only in witnessing death that she finally concludes that her autonomy is not truth, but a passionately held conviction, and she at last sees in this final tragedy the error of her want to objectify him and keep him as a specimen. The heroes and villains in this tale are muddled and Carter has crafted a small masterpiece.

  • Benjamin
    2019-04-21 04:56

    Heroes and Villians is a post-apocalyptic story that is built upon the foundational atmosphere of traditional fairytale narratives, blending together narrative aspects of fantasy stories and the aesthetic of post-apocalyptic fiction.Set years after nature has mysteriously reclaimed the British isles, and where many aspects of western civilization have crumbled, Marianne, a young teenage girl who grew up in a sterile, dull, regimented enclave of intellectuals, flees her tower and descends into the bright, colourful, and uncertain undergrowth of the wilds, where she joins an equally vibrant band of roving barbarians.The story can be a little slow at times, but I believe it is in part due to the novel's rather authentic characterisation; conversations between Marianne, The Outsider, and the tribal peoples are patchy, strained and agitatingly awkward, and at times this slows the pace. To some this may seem like the characters aren't fleshed out enough, to others it'll feel true to real-life social situations between outsiders and the initiated. Between such viscous conversations and daemonic character actions, Carter describes this post-apocalyptic Britain in astonishing detail. She marks out with her descriptions some truly beautiful locales within this new world, yet also illuminates the more graphic, fetid features of a world and its people struggling to survive an apocalyptic event (despite it being several generations ago). These patched-up wandering folk may have birthed somewhat of a new, exotic culture, however, they lack the knowledge that both their urban and rural ancestors once had: which renders them as superstitious peculiarities adrift in a very dream-like void of human existence. Recommended reading for any fan of post-apocalyptic fiction.

  • Jennifer Ochoa
    2019-04-24 05:50

    I hate rating these kinds of books. Extremely well-written, but a little too strange and disturbing for me to "enjoy" reading. It's the kind of novel I'd probably enjoy dissecting for a literature class, but for day-to-day reading, not so much. In other words, intellectually, I'd give it a higher rating, but on a personal level, nothing stuck.Set in a dystopian future, where humans now either live among the Professors (men of reason), Barbarians (primitives), or the Out People (mutant aggressives). Marianne, a child of one of the Professors, runs away to join the Barbarians out of boredom but only finds rampant filth, disease, violence and ignorance. She is forced to marry Jewel, a Barbarian who has been educated to a degree, but they hate each other and she constantly thinks of escape. The group is led by a former Professor who acts as sort of a tyrannical medicine man, conducting social experiments for what seems to be only his amusement and desire for power. The characters and their relationships in the novel are highly complex, so much so that I'm still unsure of some of the motivations for the primary characters.

  • Polaris
    2019-05-05 06:55

    What a splendid fairy tale. Dreamlike, but not so much in the sense of surreal. It's more like, during the course of the novel, rationality slowly ceases to make sense. A study in otherness. Forms of life, from thoughts to emotions fail to match familiar categories: the relationship between the two main characters is not a love story nor it is a simple "love / hate relationship", but rather, one of opposite mirrors. Class and authority are presented as being based on superstition, cultures as incommensurable.The notion of scavenged, makeshift neo-religion among the "savages" reminds me of Margaret Atwood's much later trilogy - both thematically, and in the sense that in neither of the books does it fully convince me.

  • Nomad
    2019-05-13 10:04

    This is another early effort from Angela Carter, and I have to say that it's not one of my favorites. It's post-apocalyptic and very weird. I found it hard to relate to ANY of the characters and all the perspectives just seemed to be missing something. The writing and thematic qualities are all there, but the characters themselves bog down the storytelling if that makes a lick of sense.Once again her descriptions of poverty and filth are somewhat gag inducing, but... realistic. I think that's what makes Carter the superb writer that she is, no matter how surreal or fantastical the story, it is always grounded in reality. Realism is the thread that holds all her work together... even when that work revolves around a burnt out, post-nuclear shell of a world.

  • Phil Sun
    2019-04-29 11:58

    A post-apocalyptic fantasy, set in a bizarre and brutal world. Its narrative structure borrows from fairy tale and fantasy, so there's a distancing effect that occurs, with the characters coming across as archetypal. The protagonist Marianne is kidnapped, or runs away (this kind of uncertainty about her intentions runs throughout the book) from the ivory tower of the Professors, to become a Barbarian's wife under terrible circumstances. These deeply traumatised young people fall in love or a hate that is close to love, for love is dangerous, or impossible, in a perilous world. As always, Angela Carter's writing is lush and wise.

  • Aliya Whiteley
    2019-05-03 12:14

    I think it's the way Angela Carter allows her characters to have flawed intellectual standpoints and conversations about their highly charged emotions in Heroes and Villains that makes it so good. It's that understanding of the chasm between what you feel and what you think that feeling means. The strangest things happen, and everyone puts a layer of their own thought over these events, but what is ritual to one person might well be trauma to another. Words, however carefully chosen, can't bridge this gap.

  • Daniel Griliopoulos
    2019-04-20 09:02

    I mourn Angela Carter's untimely death more than any writer of our generation. She writes an elegant post-apocalypse, without unnecessary explanation or context-building. Her protagonists give us a real sense of what it's like to live in such a world just by living in it, without narrative tricks to reveal back-history. By making them error-prone and unclear in their thinking, she makes them even more believable. As good as Oryx and Crake, but more organically-real.

  • Dorotea
    2019-05-12 08:00

    A strange dystopia, this book requires careful reading. Carter's writing is very powerful, very dense and compelling. She is a master of language, and her novel have such an extraordinary quality of sucking you in them - in the story, the language, the very words of the novel.

  • Adrian
    2019-05-20 06:17

    Grim, unlikeable characters, and it doesn't really go anywhere. Seriously considered giving this one up.

  • Steph Smith
    2019-05-19 04:08

    Enjoyed her let rip. Great wordsmith. Intoxicating

  • Samantha
    2019-04-23 06:06

    I really can't bring myself to care about what happens in this book. The writing is distant and unemotional and I feel no attachment to the main character whatsoever.

  • Kusaimamekirai
    2019-05-04 12:19

    An undefined war has destroyed the planet leaving small bands of survivors in its wake. The survivors are roughly grouped into scholars, barbarians, and the Out people who belong to neither the former or latter. Marianne is a 16 year old girl who lives among the scholars but is bored with life and one day witnesses a barbarian raid on the scholars enclave. She begins to imagine a new and more exciting life for herself among the barbarians and soon joins them only to discover the grass is not always greener...... The good: Carter’s depiction of the barbarians world is evocative and often terrifying. These are people who truly live at the margins of society and only survive by making infrequent raids on the scholars for supplies. The inhabit a squalid and harsh world which you can feel from each page. I also liked the barbarian “hero” Jewel. Son of a scholar turned barbarian he’s extremely eloquent but also reckless. He in a sense lives in the barbarian world physically but not mentally.The bad: Carter wraps this story in endless biblical metaphors (snakes, biblical tattoos, and other imagery) that felt a little heavy handed at times. As did her meandering away from the narrative with long, verbose digressions that had me scrambling for my dictionary. Her use of words like ‘susurration’ and ‘tableaux vivant’ reminded me of a good friend in high school who once during a conversation used the word ‘propinquity’. “You don’t know what propinquity means do you?” he asked me. No, I didn’t and perhaps I wasn’t as impressed by his vocabulary as he thought I should be. Angela Carter would’ve loved my friend. With all that being said, while this book was an overall disappointment, it had some very intriguing moments. I’m going to take a break from Carter for the time being but I’m certainly willing to give her other work a chance at a later date.