Alchemical Cities, Apocalyptic Cities: The City as an Exponent of Magical Realism and Ideology in Angela Carter’s Novels

Nina Muždeka 1
  • 1 University of Novi Sad, , Serbia

Abstract

Reality in Angela Carter’s magical realist novels is depicted through the deployment of numerous picturesque details that correspond to the readers’ experiential reality, differentiating such a world from non-realist forms. Though the magical realist fictional world is akin to the one outside of the fictional reality, the mode’s strategy still differs from that of traditional realism due to the absence of a purely mimetic role. Initially serving to establish what Roland Barthes termed l’effet de reel (the effect of reality), the city in Carter’s novels is indeed constructed according to the principles of magical realism and creates plausible links between textual and extratextual realities. Further inclusion of magical, uncanny elements into such a world, in one respect, leads to the creation of excentric spaces that promote the position of the marginalized Other and allow alternative outlooks on life to gain prominence. A hybrid reality that is the ultimate result of the coexistence of the normal and the uncanny leads to the subversion of what Carter saw as patriarchal stereotypes, primarily due to the fact that it problematizes and ultimately negates their very foundation. In other words, if we cannot agree on the criteria for what is real, how can we trust the ultimate authority of any other criteria? The city in Carter’s novels thus acts as a suitable literary venue for revealing the author’s ideological position.

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