The Velvet Chamber
An Anthology of Revisioned Myth and Fairy Tale

Explore the dark side of the female psyche --A CALL FOR WRITERS supports The Velvet Chamber

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Mythic Images of Women: The Wicked Queen

"Jung rarely described feminine archetypes as repositories of power for women." 

Annis Pratt, Archetypal Patterns in Women's Fiction

Monday, November 9, 2009

The mystery, the romance and the deep structure of myth

The inspiration for Tales from the Velvet Chamber of course owes much to Angela Carter’s critically acclaimed collection of fairy-tales, The Bloody Chamber published in 1976. Carter’s Beauty, from Beauty and the Beast, stands in stark opposition to the classical version. Her Beauty is cerebral and intensely sexual, a canny and powerful wench who has her wits about her, and is well aware of her power. The Beast ravishes her on his large luxe bed in his dead kingdom. Yet, she enjoys her role as sexual object, because just as easily, she swaps it out for the role of “bad girl,” a heroine with balls. She is a woman of power and agency; both object and subject. She alone escapes the fate of her hapless predecessors.

One of Angela Carter’s strategies is to reveal the hidden societal and religious constraints these women had to endure. She shows us the broader social and political picture. Carter believed that “a successful retelling delicately re-imagines the story’s content while preserving the boundaries of a form that led to such remarkable narrative stability.” The idea is not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. The idea is retain the original magic, the original enchantment, the glamour, the timelessness that is evoked with Once upon a time.

In addition to revealing the political or societal constraints as Angela Carter does, authors can write beyond happily ever after---- what happens to the Wicked Stepmother after Cinderella marries the Prince? What if the Wicked Witch of the West reconstitutes herself from a puddle of water and sets out on a new and different path? And what if a strong dose of female eroticism is combined with the mystery, the romance and the deep structure of myth? If Mary Magdalene can rise up after 2,000 years with a new story, then so can Medea and Medusa.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Tradition

"Feminist writers like feminist critics engage in revision of the tradition.  Female authorship is a trangression of social taboos."

--- Gayle Green, Changing the Story: Feminist Fiction and the Tradition.  

The raging she-devil, the slut, the gorgon, the temptress

The Bible, fairy-tales and myths are linked by their remarkable narrative stability---  yet their simplistic and often charming form hides their raging misogyny.  These cartoonish and often distorted images of women permeate much of modern culture: the raging she-devil, the madwoman, the slut, the gorgon, the temptress.

Anthologies by women writers who attempt to revision these stereotypes are few and far between. 

What if the considerable wattage that myth can bring to the narrative is maintained, but these bad girls now exhibit beauty, grace, intelligence, sexiness, creativity?  Or at the very least, tell their side of the story?

Perhaps there should be two or three variations on a deeply embedded story, not a single, monolithic one. 

Perhaps its time to burnish the rotten reputation of some of the most devilish, the most evil, yet inherently the most powerful women in myth and literature.  How would we view Pandora, Delilah and even Grendel through another lens?

Tales from the Velvet Chamber would attempt to answer these questions.  In stories that would be dark, funny, sexy and unexpected.