Monday, November 25, 2013

New Book: Reading, Translating, Rewriting: Angela Carter's Translational Poetics by Martine Hennard Dutheil de la Rochère

Reading, Translating, Rewriting: Angela Carter's Translational Poetics (Series in Fairy-Tale Studies) by Martine Hennard Dutheil de la Rochère is the third November release from Wayne State University Press in their Series in Fairy-Tale Studies. As anyone knows who has been reading about fairy tales for a while, Angela Carter is one of the most popular subjects for modern literary fairy tale scholarship. Carter both translated and rewrote fairy tales and is embraced, deservedly so, by the literary realm of academia as well as folklorists. Carter's The Bloody Chamber is essential fairy tale reading once you reach an acceptable age for it. It is not literature suitable for the preteen and below set, perhaps not even some teenagers I know.

If you read this book, you will want to be familiar with both The Bloody Chamber: And Other Stories (Penguin Ink) and Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, and Other Classic Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault (Penguin Classics). I also recommend Angela Carter's Book of Fairy Tales while we are here, but it's not as much of a companion to this study as the other two books. The Book of Fairy Tales is out of print in the US but is easily found used in this edition or earlier ones usually under the Virago Fairy Tales title. I've owned a few editions of it over the years.

It is not out of print in the UK, by the way, where Carter's books are usually nurtured by their publishers longer than in the US, since she is dear to them. Here are UK covers with links and they are fascinatingly different from the US ones, especially the Perrault:

Book description:

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.

Martine Hennard Dutheil de la Rochère is professor of English and comparative literature at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. Her most recent book is Des Fata aux fées: regards croisés de l'Antiquité à nos jours.

I received a review copy of this book, but I haven't had time to do more than crack it open briefly. Each chapter is devoted to a different fairy tale that Carter both translated and rewrote from Perrault, so it is useful for those wanting to write a paper on a single Carter story, such as The Company of Wolves or The Tiger's Bride, two common favorites for analysis, along with The Bloody Chamber itself.

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