Body Texts in the Novels of Angela Carter. Writing From a Corporeagraphic Point of View

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This study fills a major gap of Carter’s reception and enters into dialogue with current post-semiotical theories of the embodied subject by virtue of focusing on the dynamics of the meaning-in-process concomitant with the subject-in-process (Kristeva 1985) and the body-in-process. Through a corporeal narratological method—a close-reading interfacing of semioticized bodies in the text and of the somatized text on the body—the author deciphers how the ideologically disciplined, normativized-neutralized, ‘cultural’ body and its repressed yet haunting transgressive, corporeal, material ‘reality’ (are) (de)compose(d by) the Carterian fiction’s destabilizing discursive subversions and vibrations surfacing in narrative blind-spots, overwritings, textual ruptures or rhetorical manoeuvres.


“Kérchy’s “body-text interpretive model” offers an innovative approach that manages to illustrate how a feminist body-text sounds like and why it sounds the way it does. Certainly, this nexus of phenomena and narrative strategies is the most original aspect of Kérchy’s interpretation of Carter’s trilogy. The connection between the freaks that structure her reading (Eve/lyn, Fevvers, Dora and Nora) and the process of “self-freaking” becomes obvious in the reading chapters. Shedding light on textual ruptures, overwritings, palimpsestic strategies and rhetorical manoeuvres – “counter-performances,” as Kérchy calls them, this study forms an important re-evaluation of Carter’s final trilogy as an empowering feminist revision of “culturally ready-made” myths of femininity – standing within women’s literary tradition whilst subverting it internally and outlining “an alternative body- and identity-politics that starts out on the side of the othered freak.” - Prof. Sabine Coelsch-Foisner Universität Salzburg

“Ms. Kérchy’s monograph also contributes to contemporary critical debates on body and identity in their relation to textuality/sexuality, boundaries, differenceand power. The author’s focus upon the (re)embodied identity's discursive (de)construction andcorporeal (de)formations, its patriarchal marginalization and subversively gender-bendingfeminist pleasures is particularly challenging.” – Prof. György E. Szönyi, University of Szeged, Hungary

“. . . engages at a high level of sophistication with an interdisciplinary conversation about female embodiment and power relations. . . Her reading of Carter illustrates how power relations are undermined, inverted, mocked and reimagined. She makes this point not through what is becoming, in my opinion, a tired form of analysis of “everyday practices” in feminist studies (very popular in cultural studies and anthropological work on the body). But rather she shows how gender is also subverted and reinvented in powerful ways at the level of the imagination. This manuscript reminds us that being able to imagine and revel in the kind of sensuality provided by the artist (in this case, fictional writer) is a powerful means of re/un/doing gender.” - Prof. Allaine Cerwonka, Central European University

Table of Contents

Foreword Prof. Sabine Coelsch-Foisner
PART I: Theoretical Background for Body-Texts 1. The Semioticization of the Body and the Somatization of the Text in Carter
2. Carter’s Grotesque Bodies. Freaks, Ethics and Fun
3. Corporeagraphic Metafiction
4. Autobiografiction
PART II: Narrating the Nervous, Bulimic Body-Text
Grotesque Self-(De)composition in The Passion of New Eve
5. A Confusing Space of Transformation
6. A “Male Impersonator’s” Writing
7. A “Feminist Tract about the Social Creation of Femininity”
8. A Post-operative Transsexual Autobiography
9. A Pathological Polyphony: Semioticizing Female Body Dysmorphia
10. Shattering the Looking Glass
PART III: Corporeal and Textual Performance as Comic Confidence Trick in Nighs at the Circus
11. Grotesque Bodies and Carnivalesque Discourse
12. Parodic Bodily Performances, Spectacular Gender Trouble
13. The Tender Irony and Sisterly Burlesque of Textual Performance
14. A Narrative of Laughter and Laughing Narratives
PART IV Story-telling as Flirtation. Freak Bodies’ and Twinned Selves’
Vital-Fatal Seductions in Wise Children
15. Auto-portraits of a Seductress: (Un)making the Femme Vitale
16. Cosmetic Self-stylization: Flirting with Signs of Femininity
17. Making Up Our-Selves Cosmetic Reflections, Communal Identity, and the Ethics of Seduction
18. Spec(tac)ular Seductions and Eyeing Enchantresses
19. The Art of Flirtation: The Allumeuse Body
20. Narrative as Seduction, Story-telling as Flirtation
21. Flirting with the Father, the Bard, and the Empire
22. Bifocal Reconsiderations of the Alluring Names of the Authoress
23. Narrative Slips: Gaping Garments and Feminist Epistemology

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