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The Invention of Angela Carter: A Biography Hardcover – 1 Mar 2017
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"[A] gripping biography, brimming with new material... Gordon's achievement is tremendous."--Alexandra Harris, Financial Times
"Brilliantly researched, astute and fascinating."--Colm Tóibín
"[A] splendid biography... Everyone should read it."--Philip Hensher, The Spectator (UK)
"Gordon's book reminded me of the deep pleasures of literary biography at its best. It will fascinate Carter's admirers, create interest in her work among a new generation and possibly even make her detractors think again."--Max Liu, The Independent (UK)
"Meticulous research shines through every paragraph... This fascinating, highly readable biography will be extremely hard to beat."--Christina Patterson, The Sunday Times (London)
"Gordon's elegant and subtle biography... makes very good use of Carter's journals and letters, as well as his own interviews and travels; he is an excellent critic of her work; and he is precise, never prurient, about some of her tempestuous relationships with men."--Gaby Wood, The Daily Telegraph (UK)
"Glints with well-placed detail and witty apercus... the most valuable kind of literary biography."--Lucy Hughes-Hallett, Literary Review (UK)
"Gordon has done a remarkable job."--Claire Harman, London Evening Standard
"Gordon brings a wealth of research, intelligence and wit to this biography... He vividly illuminates Angela Carter's life and work."--Lisa Appignanesi, author of Trials of Passion
"Edmund Gordon's The Invention of Angela Carter takes a fascinating journey through layers of English and Japanese bohemia while triumphantly bringing us closer to the brilliantly wayward personality and mind of one of the finest, most original writers of the last 50 years."--Kazuo Ishiguro, The Guardian
"Luminous... [Gordon] beautifully drew the best from Carter's friends and acquaintances, and the result will become a classic."--Philip Hensher, The Guardian
"I would enthusiastically recommend Edmund Gordon's subtle, empathetic account."--Lara Feigel, The Guardian
"[A] thorough and timely biography...fascinating."--Helen Simpson, The Guardian
"Gordon's narrative has a beautiful, effortless flow as he seamlessly moves back and forth from the life to the works. Expansive and lavish, this outstanding biography does much to demythologize Carter, revealing her to be a singular writer of her time."--Kirkus, Starred Review
"Few biographies are as consistently spot-on as this one of Angela Carter... [Edmund] Gordon's construction of Carter as a generous feminist who never lost the common touch comes alive on the page, and, beyond that, Gordon offers enough historic background to vividly evoke a mid- and late-20th-century world. This bio never flags, never condescends, and never loses its pace. One might not read this longish book in a single sitting, but it's a page-turner highly recommended to anyone looking for an entertaining and intelligent read."--Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
"Gordon's affectionate biography re-creates [Angela Carter's] unconventional life against the tumultuous backdrop of postwar England... [and] could reintroduce Carter to a new generation of admirers."--Booklist
"Edmund Gordon is clearly a serious and gifted biographer."--New York Review of Books, Alison Lurie
"Edmund Gordon has written a terrific book - judicious, warm, confident and casually witty... Gordon has had the good fortune to seize upon, for his subject, not only an important writer but one who led a deeply interesting life. This bio unfolds a bit like one of the fairy tales Carter shook to release its meaning. The pages turn themselves... This biography is witchy, in the best sense."--New York Times, Dwight Garner
"A notably levelheaded book... it reclaims Carter from the fairy kingdom and places her within what sounds like a real life."--New Yorker
"An exceptionally thoughtful and engrossing biography."--Washington Post, Michael Dirda
"[A] sympathetic, cleareyed new biography...[by] a judicious and diligent biographer."--New York Times Book Review, Ruth Franklin
"Enchanting."--Vulture, Christian Lorentzen
"Gordon's biography works both as a portrait of a brilliant artist and as a fascinating social and literary history of England after World War II."--Seattle Times, Mary Ann Gwinn
"This biography presents a vivid and comprehensive portrait of not only the writer but also the woman."--Library Journal
"Gordon's sensitivity and empathy allow all of Carter's contradictions to come through and paints a vivid picture of a truly vibrant and defiant personality."--Popmatters
"It seems safe to say that all future work on Carter, in one way or another, will have to consult this valuable (and highly readable) new resource."--Mythlore
"Gordon's research is thorough, and his insights are penetrating and sharp. Written with grace and assurance, this volume will long stand as the definitive biography of Carter."--CHOICE Reviews
About the Author
Edmund Gordon studied philosophy at Trinity College Dublin and English literature at University College London, and since 2011 has been a lecturer in English at King's College London. A regular contributor to the Times Literary Supplement and the London Review of Books, he has also written for a variety of other publications in Britain and the US, including Bookforum and The Guardian.
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The second is that Angela Carter is an important writer. She was underrated in her lifetime in comparison with her generation (Rushdie, Amis, McEwan and so on), possibly because she insisted on making rather good jokes, something no arts establishment can stand. It is surprising that this is her first full biography, two decades after her death. I’m sure that there will be others, but as it stands this one feels definitive.
She had a complicated life and was a complex person. She was far from the one-dimensional feminist witch often depicted both by supporters and critics. This is all laid out sensitively but dispassionately. I don’t always agree with Edmund Gordon. I think that Carter’s early work (such a shock and a joy when encountered in the Sixties) is better than the late, much more expansive, novels. I think that he does a minor disservice to the preceding literary generation, which he describes as social realist and rather dull. The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold, to take just one example, is neither. He has an occasionally strange take on London geography. Knightsbridge is not in central London. It is a western suburb full of Arabs and Russians. But there’s no reason why I should always agree with Edmund Gordon.
All in all, this is a much-needed work and triumphantly realised.
What a great first book, thank you Edmund Gordon.
Carter comes over as a writer who wrote privately in journals as therapy and to define herself. This developed into a wonderful and rich seam for her published work.
She appears austere, messy, cauterizing and kind by turns. Most of all, I found her fearless in the way that people who are vulnerable often are. She realised she had had a ridiculously stifling childhood but took strength from her maternal Grandma, Jane, a brusque and talented Yorkshire woman.
I am not going to rewrite the biography in precis form as others here have done, that just ruins the narrative of her life story. Much comment is made on her marriage to a beautiful and younger man in these reviews...a strangely prudish response to the fact that Angela eventually found happiness and love and the child she had always longed for.
I believe the English are obsessed with categorizing people by age and sex. One reviewer actually says she became 'nicer' after she had a child ?????
There is no evidence in the biography she was ever unpleasant, and was a much loved lecturer and friend, although she was eccentric and challenging.
In fact she did a lot to care for others, including her silent, oppressive and depressed first husband and many others.
She was witty, warm and even hot blooded, extremely witty when turning sexism on its head, for example; describing one of her lovers as a 'piece of sexual bric a brac.'
Sadly her life was cut prematurely short by cancer and she died when her lovely son was only 8.
The biography is very engaging and well written and I really did get a sense of Angela, her contemporaries and her life.
Her talent for infusing magic realism with sexual politics was a master stroke ( or mistressstroke) and although her oeuvre is somewhat patchy here and there, it is always lush, idiosyncratic and compelling. I believe she did something quite important which has influenced writers ever since; which is to turn fantasy into a vehicle for something which challenges societal norms, in particular, her re-rendering of fairy tales.