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3.9 out of 5 stars19
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 30 January 2011
`The Passion of New Eve' starts as it means to go on with the rather bizarre opening sentence `The last night I spent in London, I took some girl or other to the movies and, through her mediation, I paid you a little tribute of spermatozoa, Tristessa.' This is not going to be any ordinary tale and indeed it isn't. We first meet Evelyn he has taken a girl to the cinema and then lets her perform fellatio on him whilst he watches his all time favourite actress on screen. Suddenly we skip to his arrival in New York a few weeks later, but this is not the New York we know of. It's a dystopian version of The Big Apple where giant rats and secular groups based on gender, sexuality and race run the streets.

After falling for Leilah, a nightclub dancer, he soon gets her pregnant and sort of tires and the darkness of the city and runs away to the desert where he is captured by a female tribe living in the underworld city of Beulah and, before you think I am giving much too much away, this is where the biggest change of Evelyn's life awaits him. I could go on and there is so much to talk about that follows and how I felt about it all but really you need to try, if you are brave enough, to read this book yourself for the experience as well as the story.

`The Passion of New Eve' is quite unlike anything I have ever read and certainly nothing like I was expecting from reading some of Angela Carter's previous works. It's a dark, uncomfortable and sometimes brutal and graphic look at sexuality and gender and what Carter feels defines them and how they can be used to manipulate and hurt rather than in any positive way - though there is a weird sense of hope in the book somewhere deep down which you get flickers of now and again.

This isn't just some big feminism book where all the men are evil, Carter is far too clever to paint it as black and white and so in characters like `Mother' (who rules Beulah) she creates one of the most heartless and monstrous villainesses I think I have come across in modern fiction. It's a book that I found compelled me, baffled me, shock and appalled me all at once. Even when I really wanted to put the book down, occasionally just for a rest from some of the descriptions, I remained strangely mesmerised. Its not going to be one of my all time favourite books but its certainly not one that I will forget in a hurry.
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on 1 September 2006
"The Passion Of New Eve" is a wild and dangerous ride through aspects of human experience that can be explored only via the over-the-top, surrealistic methods Angela Carter is using.

She is taking a hard look at issues of sexual identity, and by setting her story in a future U.S.A. that is rapidly disintegrating, and descending into all-out civil war, she indicates the often violent and arbitrary way sexual and social roles are created and changed.

The point of the novel seems to be that nature will always defeat the power plays of men, but will offer women strength only - not sympathy. The utterly satisfying section towards the end where Eve is re-born and then expelled from "Eden" underscores this.

A brilliant, deeply challenging book, recommended to readers who like to be broadened.
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on 23 April 2003
One of the sad consequences of Angela Carter's political stance is that her work will be read under the analytical microscope, just as I read this book the first time round. Regardless of any such speculative dissection, it is a beautiful, warm, subtly erotic story and in a league of its own. It is more likely to appeal to the unselfconscious, more adventurous reader.
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It makes me sad to only give an Angela Carter novel only three stars, as I expect she was one of the greater writers of the last century. The Passion of New Eve, though, is just a bit silly. It drowns in symbolism, there's not much continuity, the main character is just whisked from one situation to another, the man as a woman as a man thing is not new or interesting or revelatory or meaningful (Shakespeare was doing it). A man, turned into a woman, is subjected to the same treatment of his new gender by his old. It's not exactly an earth-shattering idea

The Passion of New Eve is self-indulgent and unsatisfying. It's fine to the follow the plot from one end to the other, but by the end the flights of fancy become ridiculous, the meaning void. It's a shame, because the first section, in the apocalyptic version of New York under subject of destruction, is brilliant.
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on 15 November 2012
I bought this as a birthday present for a friend who is an Actress and Musician. My friend loves performance art as well and so enjoys reading novels, scripts and poetry that are dark and bizarre. She enjoys reading things that delve into topics like life, death, spirituality, mythology, sexuality, gender, psychology and magic and so when I read the blurb I thought she would like this and find it inspiring for her acting and performance art work.
I also would love to read this but at the moment I am reading "The Infernal Desire Machine of Doctor Hoffman" By the same Author as I love themes on Magical Realism.
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on 21 February 2003
Angela Carter's novel Passion of New Eve is an intelligent discourse centred around ideas of gender as a performance and gender assignment. By the end of the novel names and gender roles are so obscured and blurry that they become obsolete, the 'act' of 'being' is nothing more than a performance like that of the famous actress.
Tristessa is the ultimate figure of feminine masochism, but isn't all that she seems, neither is Englishman Evelyn who later becomes Eve - Mother's mythic vision of the ultimate woman modelled on the playboy centrefold...
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on 1 April 2012
I think this book is hilarious! Angela Carter is witchy and witty and scary and gross and magical...she fluctuates beautifully though between these. Behind every sentence you know there is something "going on" beneath it.
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on 17 October 2014
The first novel I read of her's,"Heroes and Villians",was excellent.That was an earlier novel,and it seems her early stuff is probably her best.This rather later one however,was unconvincing and crude in it's portrayal of a hedonist culture rooted in our ancient desires,replete with state-of-the-art technology for instant sex changes.It was all done in a fast,overly complex prose that was rambling,with none of the artistry or care for it's the themes it was supposed to explore shown in HAV.

While not bad,I can't praise this much.If you haven't done so already,you'll probably be better going for the other book I mentioned.
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on 19 November 2000
The novel is throughout an exposition of the postmodern debate of gender construction as a social condition. The metamorphosis of Evelyn from that of the male gender, to a convincing depiction of female gender and identity is an interesting journey which highlights the cultural and social effects on gendering and identity. Carter provides various parodies of female/feminine and male/masculine in the opposing powers of Zero and Mother, which forces the reader to question their own perception of what constitutes male and female. One will never again conform to the stereotypical constructs of blue is for boys and pink for girls after reading Passion of New Eve and its blatent arguments for an end to gender standardizing.
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on 9 January 2011
Angela Carter wrote many amazing books, and this is certainly one of them. She was highly articulate and visionary in her espousal of feminism, and this book explores an apocalyptic view of the world's future using all of her wonderful skills. It is hallucinatory in its exploration of the interactions between the many strains of human sexuality, digging deeply and fearlessly into the implications of evolution and transformation in this area. It tells of the transformation of the male Evelyn into the female Eve, with the help of a wide range of different influences, in the context of an America grown wild in its social self-neglect, and its visions are frequently startling in their vividness. Carter manages, through these visions, to paint a picture of the frailty of humankind, and also the possibilities that are available if humans can transcend their evolutionary sexual traits. A wonderful book of eye-opening wonders.
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