Angela Carter never fails to both impress and confuse. Her 1972 picaresque novel is a science-fiction tale of blind love, surrealism, and liberation from modern ideologies. Desiderio, a man without imagination, is sent on a mission to seek the sinister Doctor Hoffman, who with the help of his infernal machines, has broken the rules of reality and blended physics with the transcendental. Wrong is right, right is left, Nebulous Time develops its own infrastructure and ecosystem, and a selection of slides in a travelling peep-show eerily predict the outcomes of his journey. Infatuated by Albertina, a mysterious woman made of glass, he discovers on his way disturbing forms of rape and counterculture, both of which in many cases go hand in hand. Sexual desire, or “eroto-energy,” as she calls it, is a big theme throughout the tale, and while at times it feels heavy and disturbing, it still by all means works.
The way Carter bends time is fantastic. She reveals the ending at the beginning, deliberately gives away surprises before they have arrived, and yet still leaves you shocked by her sheer power of words on page, for even then she is captivating. It pulls us into Desiderio’s world of unreality and unwoven time, and left me sympathetic when he ultimately made his choices.
While much of this novel is brilliantly constructed, and wonderfully theoretical, the use of metaphor and simile was, in my opinion, very heavy, and the intertextual references were enough to alienate me at times. She, herself, commented on how she struggles with dialogue and prefers working with descriptive text, which is evident in this novel, but I felt like much of her theoretical analysis could have been pared down, or even simplified.
I would recommend any of her works, for she is something of a literary heroin of mine, and a master of literature, but the sheer density of this manuscript leaves me advising only to read this book if you fancy a challenge. You will learn a thing or two from investigating this story. I certainly did.
My rating: 3.5/5