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


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.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Bradfield, Scott. “Remembering Angela Carter.” The Review of Contemporary Fiction 14:3 (1994): 91.

  • Carter, Angela. Expletives Deleted. 1992. London: Vintage. 1993.

  • Carter, Angela. The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman. 1972. London: Penguin, 1982.

  • Carter, Angela. The Magic Toyshop. 1967. London: Virago P, 2006.

  • Carter, Angela. “My Maugham Award.” Shaking a Leg: Collected Journalism and Writing. London: Chatto, 1997. 203-204.

  • Carter, Angela. Nights at the Circus. 1984. London: Vintage, 2006.

  • Carter, Angela. The Passion of New Eve. 1977. London: Virago P, 1998.

  • Carter, Angela. Wise Children. Toronto: Little, 1991.

  • Day, Aidan. Angela Carter: The Rational Glass. Manchester: Manchester UP, 1998.

  • Faris, Wendy B. Ordinary Enchantments: Magical Realism and the Remystification of Narrative. Nashville: Vanderbilt UP, 2004.

  • Faris, Wendy B. “Scheherazade’s Children: Magical Realism and Postmodern Fiction.” Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community. Ed. Lois Parkinson Zamora and Wendy B. Faris. Durham: Duke UP, 1995. 163-190.

  • Gasiorek, Andrzej. Post-War British Fiction: Realism and After. London: Arnold, 1995.

  • Groes, Sebastian. The Making of London: London in Contemporary Literature. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

  • Haffenden, John. Novelists in Interview. London: Methuen, 1985.

  • Hegerfeldt, Anne. “Contentious Contributions: Magical Realism Goes British.” Janus Head 5.2 (2002): 62-86.

  • Hegerfeldt, Anne. Lies that Tell the Truth: Magic Realism Seen through Contemporary Fiction from Britain. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2005.

  • Michael, Magali Cornier. Feminism and Postmodern Impulse: Post-World War II Fiction. Albany: State U of New York P, 1996.

  • Muždeka, Nina. Magical Realism in the Novels of Angela Carter (Magijski realizam u romanima Andžele Karter). Novi Sad: Filozofski Fakultet, 2017.

  • Peach, Linden. Angela Carter. London: Macmillan P, 1998.

  • Pitchford, Nicola. Tactical Readings: Feminist Postmodernism in the Novels of Kathy Acker and Angela Carter. London: Associated UP, 2002.

  • Robinson, Sally. Engendering the Subject: Gender and Self-Representation in Contemporary Women’s Fiction. Albany: State U of New York P, 1991.

  • Sage, Lorna. Flesh and the Mirror: Essays on the Art of Angela Carter. London: Virago, 1994.

  • Sage, Lorna. “The Savage Sideshow: A Profile of Angela Carter.” The New Review 4 (1977): 51-56.

  • Schroeder, Shannin. Rediscovering Magical Realism in the Americas. Westport: Praeger Publishers, 2004.

  • Sherman, Delia. “Grand Illusionist.” The Women’s Review of Books 9.10-11 (1992): 33.

  • “The Somerset Maugham Award.” The Society of Authors Awards. Web. 1 Feb. 2020.

  • Stewart, Melissa. “Roads of ‘Exquisite Mysterious Muck’: The Magical Journey through the City in William Kennedy’s Ironweed, John Cheever’s ‘The Enormous Radio,’ and Donald Barthelme’s ‘City Life’.” Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community. Ed. Lois Parkinson Zamora and Wendy B. Faris. Durham: Duke UP, 1995. 477 - 496.

  • Wilson, Rawdon. “The Metamorphoses of Fictional Space: Magical Realism.” Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community. Ed. Lois Parkinson Zamora and Wendy B. Faris. Durham: Duke UP, 1995. 209 – 234.


Journal + Issues