The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter

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‘Immolation of the wives of the Sultan’ – again invented.

‘“Of her apparel she retains/Only her sonorous jewellery”’ – A quotation from Baudelaire’s ‘Les Bijoux’ (‘The Jewels’), the first two lines of which are: ‘La très-chère était nue, et, connaissant mon coeur,/Elle n'avait gardé que ses bijoux sonores’. The poem has an overpowering sense of the ‘male gaze’ about it.

‘Krug’ – a type of Champagne.

‘La Terrasse des audiences au clair de lune’ – actually La Terrasse des audiences du clair de lune, one of Claude Debussy’s Préludes for solo piano.

‘Moreau’s […] Sacrificial Victim’ – an invented painting by the French artist Gustave Moreau (1826-1898).

‘Ensor, the great Ensor, his monolithic canvas: The Foolish Virgins.’ – again an imaginary painting by the real James Ensor (1860-1949). All of these titles have loaded meanings and are proleptic of the narrator’s fate.

‘Out of the Night We Come, Into the Night We Go’ – imaginary painting by Paul Gaugin (1848-1903). Watteau, Poussin and Fragonard, referenced in the next line, are all French painters of the Ancien Regime .

‘Sèvres […] Limoges’ – Cities famous for their porcelain.

‘the key to my enfer’ – the word is usually translated ‘hell’, but, given the context of hidden places kept under lock and key, it is also the term used in French libraries for a section containing forbidden books.

‘carillon’ – a tune played on bells struck by some mechanism – usually operated by a keyboard or pedals.

‘vicuña breast’ – referring to an expensive and high-quality South American wool, more sought-after even than cashmere.

‘jinn’s treasury’ – a ‘jinn’ is another word for a ‘genie’.

‘a moue of distain’ – ‘a pout’.

‘King Mark’ – King of Cornwall, not Brittany. However, Tristan dies in Brittany, so there is an association. He was one of Mark’s knights, sent to bring the Irish princess Isolde to Cornwall to marry the king, but through the action of a love potion fell in love with Isolde himself.

‘billets-doux’ – ‘love letters’, here used ironically.

‘La Coupole’ – Name of a famous Parisian restaurant, but the real La Coupole did not open until 1927, after the time in which the story is apparently set.

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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