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Reading, Translating, Rewriting

Angela Carter's Translational Poetics

Martine Hennard Dutheil de la Rochère

Publication Year: 2013

In translating Charles Perrault's seventeenth-century Histoires ou contes du temps passé, avec des Moralités into English, Angela Carter worked to modernize the language and message of the tales before rewriting many of them for her own famous collection of fairy tales for adults, The Bloody Chamber, published two years later. In Reading, Translating, Rewriting: Angela Carter's Translational Poetics, author Martine Hennard Dutheil de la Rochère delves into Carter's The Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault (1977) to illustrate that this translation project had a significant impact on Carter's own writing practice. Hennard combines close analyses of both texts with an attention to Carter's active role in the translation and composition process to explore this previously unstudied aspect of Carter's work. She further uncovers the role of female fairy-tale writers and folktales associated with the Grimms' Kinder- und Hausmärchen in the rewriting process, unlocking new doors to The Bloody Chamber. Hennard begins by considering the editorial evolution of The Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault from 1977 to the present day, as Perrault's tales have been rediscovered and repurposed. In the chapters that follow, she examines specific linkages between Carter's Perrault translation and The Bloody Chamber, including targeted analysis of the stories of Red Riding Hood, Bluebeard, Puss-in-Boots, Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella. Hennard demonstrates how, even before The Bloody Chamber, Carter intervened in the fairy-tale debate of the late 1970s by reclaiming Perrault for feminist readers when she discovered that the morals of his worldly tales lent themselves to her own materialist and feminist goals. Hennard argues that The Bloody Chamber can therefore be seen as the continuation of and counterpoint to The Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault, as it explores the potential of the familiar stories for alternative retellings. While the critical consensus reads into Carter an imperative to subvert classic fairy tales, the book shows that Carter valued in Perrault a practical educator as well as a proto-folklorist and went on to respond to more hidden aspects of his texts in her rewritings. Reading, Translating, Rewriting is informative reading for students and teachers of fairy-tale studies and translation studies.

Published by: Wayne State University Press

Series: Series in Fairy-Tale Studies


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Title Page, Series Page, Copyright

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pp. vii-x

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Introduction: Angela Carter’s French Connections

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pp. 1-32

Translation is a little explored facet of Angela Carter’s rich creativity, even though it formed the background for and counterpoint to her fairy-tale rewritings in The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories (1979). Always a curious traveler, Carter liked to move between continents, cultures, languages, literatures, genres, and media, and this gave her writing its distinctive...

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1. Tracing Editorial Metamorphoses: The Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault from 1977 to the Present Day

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pp. 33-70

The making of a book is notoriously influenced by powerful intermediaries and prescriptors—commissioners, editors, publishers, booksellers—quite apart from the author. Their influence is not always easy to assess, and this may be even more true in the case of a translation, where there is often a...

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2. Updating the Politics of Experience: From “Le Petit Chaperon rouge” to “Little Red Riding Hood” and “The Company of Wolves”

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pp. 71-108

“Little Red Riding Hood,” Angela Carter’s translation of Charles Perrault’s “Le Petit Chaperon rouge,” is given pride of place in The Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault. This reflects both the preeminence of the story in the modern fairy-tale canon and its central role in Carter’s body of work. Sandra...

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3. Looking Through the Keyhole of Culture, or the Moral Function of Curiosity: From “La Barbe bleue” to “Bluebeard” and “The Bloody Chamber”

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pp. 109-156

In the course of her research Angela Carter became aware of the manifold cultural infl ections and shifting signifi cance of the Bluebeard story. More visibly grounded in a history of violence against women than most fairy tales, every retelling positions itself implicitly toward the protagonists, either...

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4. Doing the Somersault of Love: From “Le Chat botté” to “Puss in Boots” and “Puss-in-Boots”

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pp. 157-188

“Puss in Boots,” Angela Carter’s translation of Charles Perrault’s “Le Maître Chat, ou le Chat botté,” is the third tale in The Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault, and it brings comic relief after the human drama of “Little Red Riding Hood” and the shuddering suspense of “Bluebeard.” The fact that...

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5. Revamping Sleeping Beauty: From “La Belle au bois dormant” to “The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood” and “The Lady of the House of Love”

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pp. 189-226

When we think of “Sleeping Beauty,” what immediately comes to mind is the magical kiss given by Prince Charming to the eponymous heroine, often filtered through Walt Disney’s animated movie of 1959. A central icon of the Disney fairy-tale industry, the pink, gold, and light blue Sleeping...

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6. Recovering a Female Tradition: From “La Belle et la Bête” to “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Tiger’s Bride”

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pp. 227-262

Angela Carter also translated two contes by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont: “Le Prince Chéri” and “La Belle et la Bête.” The tales were published alongside her translations of Perrault in Sleeping Beauty and Other Favourite Fairy Tales (1982).1 “Beauty and the Beast” inspired two...

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7. Giving Up the Ghost: From “Cendrillon ou la petite pantoufl e de verre” to “Cinderella: or, The Little Glass Slipper” and “Ashputtle or The Mother’s Ghost”

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pp. 263-298

The Bloody Chamber contains retellings of well-known tales such as “Bluebeard,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “Puss in Boots,” and “Little Red Riding Hood.” “Cinderella” is surprisingly absent from the collection, especially when we consider that Angela Carter had translated...

Conclusion: The Poetics and Politics of Translation

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pp. 299-302


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pp. 303-348


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pp. 349-362


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pp. 363-374

E-ISBN-13: 9780814336359
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814336342

Page Count: 384
Illustrations: 27
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Series in Fairy-Tale Studies
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OCLC Number: 870177308
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Reading, Translating, Rewriting

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Women in literature.
  • Fairy tales -- History and criticism.
  • Perrault, Charles, -- 1628-1703 -- Translations into English -- History and criticism.
  • Carter, Angela, ‡d 1940-1992. ‡t Bloody chamber.
  • Translating and interpreting -- History.
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