The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter

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‘cobra-headed, funereal lilies’ – indicative of hidden danger.

‘Catherine de Medici’ – Queen of France from 1547-1559 and subsequently regent for her son, King Charles IX. Regarded as the most powerful woman of her time in Europe, and often considered responsible for the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in 1572, when thousands of French Protestants (Huguenots) were killed.

‘Redon’ – Odilon Redon (1840-1916) French Symbolist painter.

‘Puvis de Chavannes’ – Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (1824-1898), a noted French painter. It is possible that Carter is referencing the painting ‘Hope’.

‘Mairie’ – Town Hall. The reference is to the magnificent Hôtel de Ville in Paris.

‘Poiret’ – Paul Poiret (1879-1944), a leading French fashion designer.

‘the Directory’ – a collective leadership of five ‘directors’ that governed France in the final phase of the French Revolution (1795-1799).

‘Worth’ – Charles Frederick Worth (1825-1895), English-born fashion designer based in Paris.

‘Romeo y Julieta’ – a style of Cuban cigar, and an oblique reference to another famous ‘Liebestod’.

‘Bechstein’ – a German piano of very high quality.

‘St Cecilia’ – Patroness of musicians, and therefore an appropriate gift for the narrator. According to her Life, she was struck three times by a sword upon the neck, lived for three days and then reposed.

‘Rops’ – Félicien Rops (1833-1898), Belgian artist, noted for his etchings. His subject matter frequently included images of sexuality, death and Satanism.

‘Huysmans's Là-bas’ – ‘Down there’ or ‘The Damned’, a novel by J. K. Huysmans (1848-1907) published in 1891. In it the hero becomes fascinated by the fifteenth century child murderer and serial killer Gilles de Rais and is thereby drawn into a circle of his contemporaries who worship Satan. The ‘lectern, carved like a spread eagle’ on which the Marquis has placed this book deliberately resembles those used in churches: Là-bas is his gospel.

‘Eliphas Levy’ – Eliphas Levi, born Alphonse Louis Constant (1810-1875), a noted occultist. Of the books mentioned, only The Key of Mysteries is real.

‘The Adventures of Eulalie’ – invented by Carter. Possibly reminiscent of the The Lustful Turk, or Lascivious Scenes from a Harem, an erotic novel of 1828.

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the Unkindness of Ravens If you have found our critical notes helpful, why not try the first Tower Notes novel, a historical fantasy set in the time of the Anglo-Saxon invasions.

Available HERE where you can read the opening chapters.

The Unkindness of Ravens by Anthony Paul