Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Four top books based on myths

Lucy Hughes-Hallett is the author of The Pike: Gabriele D'Annunzio, which won all three of the UK's most prestigious prizes for non-fiction - the Samuel Johnson Prize, the Duff Cooper Prize and the Costa Biography Award - and the Political Book Awards Biography of the Year. Her other non-fiction books are the acclaimed cultural histories Heroes and Cleopatra: Histories, Dreams and Distortions. Cleopatra won the Fawcett Prize and the Emily Toth Award. In 2017 she published her first novel Peculiar Ground, which was shortlisted for the RSL Ondaatje Prize and longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize.

Hughes-Hallett's new book is Fabulous, a collection of short stories.

At the Guardian she tagged some of the best books based on myths, including:
While [Muriel] Spark’s protagonist [in The Ballad of Peckham Rye] steps out of legend to stir up reality, the young women in Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber (sexually curious, wilfully disobedient) step out of 1970s reality into fairytale and turn the old stories inside out. Who wouldn’t (Carter asks the reader) prefer getting into bed with a handsome wolf-man to taking tea with Grandmother? The reversal of traditional moralising is entertaining, but what gives Carter’s stories their potency is that she lovingly celebrates the tradition she’s subverting. Full of jewels and furs, virgin blood and deep dark forests, incantatory sentences that meander from curse to enchantment to voluptuous celebration of sex, her stories are at once parodies of an archaic form, and gorgeous examples of it.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Bloody Chamber is among Dan Coxon's top ten folk tales in fiction, Sam Reader's top five books that give old legends a new spin, four books that changed Angelica Banks, four books that changed Justine Larbalestier, Stephanie Feldman's ten creepiest books, and Jonathan Stroud's favorite fantasy books.

--Marshal Zeringue