Home > Catalogue > Annali di Ca’ Foscari. Serie occidentale > 57 | 2023 > Incest as Form and the Identity Taboo according to Angela Carter

Incest as Form and the Identity Taboo according to Angela Carter

Savina Stevanato    Università degli Studi Roma Tre    



This paper analyses Angela Carter’s desecrating tendency to taboo-breaking in thematic and formal terms. By referring to her short-fiction production and focusing on “John Ford’s ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore", I intend to show how gender/patriarchal and genre/authorial taboos are similarly broken and transmuted into daringly subversive outcomes. In line with her feminist agenda and postmodern transformism, Carter superbly challenges, sabotages, violates, de- and re-constructs traditionally codified sexual and gender taboos by mimicking such reversals through new narrative solutions. If diversity, multiplicity and change guarantee the continuity of life, incest can easily metaphorise a taboo relationship based on repetition of the identical, sameness, and immobility, to be finally transformed, if not avoided. Consistent with many of her female characters’ incestuous relationships with parents or siblings, Carter also establishes incest-like relationships with previous authors and narrative discourses, which she predatorily appropriates. Carter’s resulting narrative testifies to the fact that taboos must be first experienced to be eventually broken. It is in the dialectic between rule and infraction, taboo and its violation that Carter’s writing is rooted, constantly looking for borders to be crossed.

Oct. 30, 2023
July 18, 2023
March 12, 2023

Keywords: Code/Genre/Gender-RewritingIncestAngela CarterJohn FordPostmodern I-dentityThe IdenticalTransformism

Copyright: © 2023 Savina Stevanato. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.