Wednesday, 17 February 2010

The passion of New Eve (Carter) 96

I am normally very meticulous about reading books that I have been sent, either by friends or publishers, but unfortunately The passion of New Eve by Angela Carter has been sitting on the side for some time. I had very kindly been sent a copy by Catherine who reads this blog.

It tells the story of Evelyn, an Englishman who comes to New York, gets involved with a woman who nearly dies from a subsequent abortion, and then moves on, and later undergoes a sex change operation. It's a book about gender and gender issues, and I think the book is somewhat stronger in being a discourse about this than in being a "story" in the more obvious sense.

I had been promised that this book was "bizarre" and I think that this was a bit of an understatement. I didn't really know what to make of it, and found myself repulsed by quite a lot of it. I can't say that I enjoyed it at all, but on the other hand I could recognise the amazing quality of Carter's writing which is quite unlike most other prose that I read.

It's been published three times by Virago, and of the three covers I think that the original green one best sum up the confusion of Evelyn/Eve, although the picture on the most recent copy which I own is also quite clever.


  1. Dear Verity - thank you for sharing your impressions of this one. It is one of the few Angela Carter that I am yet to read although I do have it.... (same old story of huge list of books to read I am afraid). I think that you *might* enjoy Wise Children, if you of a mind to try another Angela Carter.

  2. ooh! I do like the first cover. I possess the third one, but, the book's at my parents' right now, and I'm still to read it. Thanks for the thoughts on it.

    I've not read much Carter (just the one book, and one collection of short stories), but absolutely loved The Magic Toyshop. Have literally just started Several Perceptions so let's see how that goes.

  3. Bizarre was an understatement on my part; I have also descrbed it as like nothing else you have ever read ;).

    I'm sorry that you didn't like this at all but completely agree that it is more a discourse on gender and I studied it as such rather than read it for enjoyment. It is experimental, shocking and thought-provoking. I also liked the idea of Beulah as a utopia/heterotopia (Foucalt) in a dystopian world and loved the olf-world movie glamour Tristessa part.

  4. Hannah - I'll be interested to hear what you make of it in due course. I'm not sure I'm prepared to read any non-VMC Angela Carters, well, not until I've read the VMC ones. I did enjoy Magic Toyshop though, so if Wise Children is more like that then I might give it a g o.

    Another Cookie - I loved Magic Toyshop too.

    Claire - "bizarre was an understatement" - I couldn't agree more!! I think much more of a b ook to be studied than read.