Angela Carter as fiction: Refiguring the real author as Performative Author | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 2, Issue 1-2
  • ISSN: 2043-0701
  • E-ISSN: 2043-071X


In a 2006 article in The Independent, Christina Patterson echoes Gore Vidal by stating ‘Death, as any biographer knows, can be an excellent career move’. Commenting on a brief revival of Angela Carter’s work in 2006 concomitant with Emma Rice’s bringing of Nights at the Circus to the stage, and Vintage’s reissuing of six of her works with new introductions, Patterson refers to Carter’s ‘whole new lease on life’ suggesting the metamorphic potential and curious temporality of the authorial figure with regard to reader reception. The Vintage editions suggest, as Stephen Benson observes, the ‘legend’ of the ‘Carter effect’, identified by The British Academy Humanities Research Board, which distributes postgraduate studentships. This ‘Carter’ effect was also fostered by the theatricality of Carter’s authorial performances. Sarah Gamble has observed the ‘screen’ of authorial identity upon which readers are led to project impressions, which functions as a ‘hall of mirrors’ in relation to penetrating to the authentic author. Such attempts at authorial effacement and control are certainly not unusual. However, Carter’s postmodern enactment of the play of surfaces in the realm of authorial identity appears to heighten the consequent shifting of boundaries between fiction and life staged in her fiction. This article will address the interaction between the games with identity inscribed in Carter’s short stories and the complex identity and temporality of the Performative Author.


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