In 1972, Angela Carter translated Xavière Gauthier’s ground-breaking feminist critique of the surrealist movement, Surréalisme et sexualité (1971). Although the translation was never published, the project at once confirmed and consolidated Carter’s previous interest in surrealism, representation, gender and desire and aided her formulation of a new surrealist-feminist aesthetic. This talk will trace this surrealist-feminist aesthetic in Carter’s polemical engagement with the Marquis de Sade in The Sadeian Woman: An Exercise in Cultural History. I suggest that The Sadeian Woman should be read as a companion piece to Surréalisme et sexualité, at once signalling Carter’s intellectual debt to surrealism and to Gauthier’s feminist critique of the movement.
Anna Watz is Senior Lecturer in English at Linköping University, Sweden. She is the author of Angela Carter and Surrealism: ‘A Feminist Libertarian Aesthetic’ (Routledge, 2016), as well as several articles and book chapters on Angela Carter’s fiction. She has also published on the fiction of the surrealist writer and artist Leonora Carrington, on the writing of the feminist theorist Xavière Gauthier, and on representations of female desire in contemporary popular culture. Her current research includes a monograph on female submission in popular fiction, to be published in I. B. Tauris’s Library of Gender and Popular Culture, and a project that seeks to articulate the links between surrealism and 1970s French feminism.