I was thinking that I would have to read Angela Carter’s Nights at the Circus again before I even attempted a musing on it, but realized that another reading, and perhaps yet another after that wouldn’t pin down anything: the novel’s very core dances with the concept of truth. I still wouldn’t “know.” I can’t even give you a plot summary — the turn of the last century. A woman with wings, performing in a circus. London, then train travel to Russia, then Siberia. A women’s prison. A takeover of the train by outlaws. No, not really. See? Can’t do it.
What’s swirling around in my head? Notions of feminism, postmodernism, performativity, appetite. Power (“She was feeling supernatural tonight. She wanted to EAT diamonds.”), politics. Subjects and objects. Chaos (oh my god I’ll never look at a clown in the same way) and order. Desire. Love. Change. Utopia. Allegories and theories. Gorgeous, gorgeous language and narrative acrobatics.
Brilliant. Risky. Difficult and worth it. I love, love, loved it. I need to go to Angela Carter World much more often.
How inconvenient to have wings, and by extension, how very, very difficult to be born so out of key with the world. Something that women know all about is how very difficult it is to enter an old game.
Carter, Angela. A Conversation with Angela Carter, The Review of Contemporary Fiction. Fall, 1994.