By Elizabeth Taylor
Possibly each novelist harbors a monster at center, an irrepressible and totally irresponsible fantasist, let alone a born and inventive liar, with no which all her artwork might opt for naught. Angel, at any expense, is the tale of this type of monster. Angelica Deverell lives above her diligent, drab mother's grocery store in a dreary turn-of-the-century English local, yet spends her days dreaming of good-looking Paradise condominium, the place her aunt is enthroned as a maid. yet in Angel's mind's eye, she is the mistress of the home, a realm of lavish opulence, of night robes and peacocks. Then she starts off to put in writing renowned novels, and this myth turns into her lifestyles. And now that she has tasted luck, Angel has no purpose of letting an individual stand in her way--except, might be, herself.
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Disregarding this, what Bluebeard forbids his wife must be some kind of sexual knowledge or act, shown symbolically; what it is has 35 See an article by Yvonne Verdier, often reproduced or summarized: ‘Grandsmères, si vous saviez: Le Petit Chaperon rouge dans la tradition orale’, Cahiers de la littérature orale, 4 (1978); and Appendix A on Red Riding-Hood below. 36 Beast to Blonde, 244–6. Some of the comments she records make a connection with the sin of Eve, desire for sexual knowledge; but Eve was a virgin, unlike— presumably—Bluebeard’s wife.
The clearest cases are Sleeping Beauty and Red Riding-Hood, from which episodes known in other versions, such as the Prince’s violation of the unconscious girl and the wolf ’s treatment of the grandmother’s corpse, are absent; if Perrault knew them, as seems probable, he must have decided against them on the grounds that they would be found offensive, and made the necessary alterations. The result of all this is that the tales in prose, at least—the position is different with those in verse—became suited to the middle-class introduction xxxvii sensibilities of his time.
It becomes necessary to hide the offspring from the motherin-law, who behaves (leaving her ogreish propensities aside) like any other mother who suspects that her son is having an illicit affair. The story’s subject, then, has changed, and now concerns the notoriously difﬁcult relationship between a man’s wife and his mother—perhaps not a topic that might be expected in a fairy-tale. We can reconstruct the reasons for it by comparing Perrault’s tale with Basile’s earlier version. Here, the Prince who ﬁnds the sleeping Talia is already married, and takes advantage of her unconscious state to father twins on her; in due course, the jealous wife ﬁnds out, and seeks a dreadful revenge, exactly like Beauty’s mother-in-law.
Angel by Elizabeth Taylor