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Heroes and Villains

3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  1,033 ratings  ·  74 reviews
Playful, sensuous, violent and gripping, 'Heroes and Villains' is an ambiguous and deliriously rich blend of post-apocalyptic fiction, gothic fantasy, literary allusion and twisted romance.
Paperback, Penguin Modern Classics, 164 pages
Published February 1st 2011 by Penguin Books (first published 1969)
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Seonaidh Ceannéidigh
At times great, at times muddled, Carter's post-apocalyptic fairytale [that is, minus any fairies] manages to both dazzle and sometimes bore, if only because its initially-strong-heroine [Marianne] becomes strangely passive-aggressive as the novel and the adversity wears on. The climax is replaced by a wind-down, the best part of which is a nightly stroll by a seaside resort, unfortunately capped with the disappointing off-page exit of its lead male character; a young man named Jewel who is stra ...more

I can't properly review Angela Carter - her books just seem to reach into my subconscious, grasp hold of me, and refuse to let go. It's always a strange experience to read others' reviews of her work, which debate symbolism and characterization and political message. All those things are very clear to me when reading, but I feel so little need to comment on them, because the book itself feels so true. This is how the world is; or, more properly, this is how the world is for me. Every other
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After the world's end, three types of people roam the gutted earth: professors (aka intellectuals), barbarians (aka "noble savages"), and out people (aka deformed savage monsters aka FREAKWADS). This is the story of a professor girl who chooses to exempt herself from her prof clan by faking her own suicide and running off with a red hot barbarian with raven plaits and a six pack. You probably won't believe me, but this hunk's name is Jewel (?!?).

It is a familiar story: headstrong girl meets head
Can Angela Carter do anything wrong? No. That is my definitive answer.

I haven't read even half of what she has published but the very idea of Carter's death preventing her from writing anything new makes me profoundly sad. I wish I could make literally everyone read something of hers.
Nate D
Oh, this one really pushes some buttons. People expecting a proper post-apocalyptic adventure are disappointed. People are distressed with the problematic central "romance". Anyone expecting anything like the clear categories of the title are certainly going to be somewhat put out. But amid cynical reflections on the collapse of civilization -- the grim struggles of those who have cast it off, and the erosion of purpose in the hold-outs behind their walls -- what Angela Carter seems to be attemp ...more
Everything signifies something here, as evidenced by references to Levi-Strauss, tattoos of biblical proportion, charcoal slogans scrawled on walls which only one character can read and folkloric myth mixed with pagan and commercial, Western marriage ritual. Carter is playing with all of these concepts and connecting them to her usual deft explorations of gender interaction/ conflict.

Carter tropes at work: the mutual hate between men & women; raped into marriage; characters who are complace
I'd say 3.5 on this one, but would willingly bump my rating up to 4 for Angela Carter--who, even when not in tip-top shape, is simply incomparable in so many ways.

The long and short of it: Heroes & Villains is basically a novel of ideas, as is frequently the case with Carter. Here, as in something like 'The Infernal Desire Machines of Dr. Hoffman,' the ideas are more at the forefront than, say, character development or flowery prose. It's ostensibly a post-apocalyptic novel, though not in th
I am now pretty certain that no one ever really gets used to Angela Carter's brand of vitriolic love or her genre-defying characters. I mean, when I try to figure out 'Heroes and Villains', I really struggle to put a label on what I have just read. Instead I come up with crazy statements like: it's a futuristic fairytale with elements of creation mythology that registers roughly on the ultraviolet section of the story-telling rainbow. Yeah. It's like THAT.

The main ingredients of a typical Carte
Jan 23, 2014 SZ rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: reviewed
The Times described Heroes and Villains as 'an unashamed fantasist, a fabulist of daemonic energy' – and it really is. This is an incredibly loaded book, and every time I’ve tried to review this I’ve ended up word-vomiting a bad fragment of one or one hundred failed essays that could be written about it. This time will be no different (but I’ve hit the ‘fuck it, let’s just get it done’ try). I think the difficulty is down to the fact that rereading the novella I was more aware of what was trying ...more
Jennifer Ochoa
I hate rating these kinds of books. Extremely well-written, but a little too strange and disturbing for me to "enjoy" reading. It's the kind of novel I'd probably enjoy dissecting for a literature class, but for day-to-day reading, not so much. In other words, intellectually, I'd give it a higher rating, but on a personal level, nothing stuck.

Set in a dystopian future, where humans now either live among the Professors (men of reason), Barbarians (primitives), or the Out People (mutant aggressive
Aliya Whiteley
I think it's the way Angela Carter allows her characters to have flawed intellectual standpoints and conversations about their highly charged emotions in Heroes and Villains that makes it so good. It's that understanding of the chasm between what you feel and what you think that feeling means. The strangest things happen, and everyone puts a layer of their own thought over these events, but what is ritual to one person might well be trauma to another. Words, however carefully chosen, can't bridg ...more
Heroes and Villains is like the literary equivalent of a Hieronymus Bosch painting. Strange, oddly fascinating, unnerving and probably quite exhausting if you look at it for too long. I can't say that I liked it, yet at the same time I couldn't stop reading.

This is one of those books where either everything means something, or nothing means anything at all. I suspect Angela Carter was trying to achieve the former. I'm not sure she succeeded at it. She kept me wondering throughout the novel thou
Grace Harwood
This novel combines one of my favourite authors (Carter) with one of my favourite novelistic settings (apocalyptic). Carter herself was recorded as saying that this was her first truly gothic novel (although it came after The Magic Toyshop which many readers would describe as Gothic). It combines a unique heroine who seems almost sociopathic in her inability to feel for others, who is born into a privileged community of "professors" and lives in a white tower, before, growing bored with her exis ...more
Jeanne Thornton
I think I maybe do not like early Angela Carter very much? It gets better as it goes along, but there are lines in this that are just not that good, the goofy dialogue is I guess "Brechtian" in the sense that it's totally unbelievable, and I don't identify at all with the central postulate that "Jewel is hot and we should spend a lot of time contemplating how hot he is." The whole thing has a feeling either of a really, really talented writer slumming it with Fallen Science Fictions or of an all ...more
Grim, unlikeable characters, and it doesn't really go anywhere. Seriously considered giving this one up.
What a splendid fairy tale. Dreamlike, but not so much in the sense of surreal. It's more like, during the course of the novel, rationality slowly ceases to make sense. A study in otherness. Forms of life, from thoughts to emotions fail to match familiar categories: the relationship between the two main characters is not a love story nor it is a simple "love / hate relationship", but rather, one of opposite mirrors. Class and authority are presented as being based on superstition, cultures as in ...more
Heroes and Villians is a post-apocalyptic story that is built upon the foundational atmosphere of traditional fairytale narratives, blending together narrative aspects of fantasy stories and the aesthetic of post-apocalyptic fiction.

Set years after nature has mysteriously reclaimed the British isles, and where many aspects of western civilization have crumbled, Marianne, a young teenage girl who grew up in a sterile, dull, regimented enclave of intellectuals, flees her tower and descends into th
Roddy Williams
Carter's post apocalyptic fantasy is one of the novels listed in Pringle's '100 Greatest SF Novels' and has been well-received by critics, academics and readers since its first publication.
Carter's own desire for this novel was to create a gothic novel, albeit set in the future.
Structurally it is pretty standard fare. the Campbell model holds up well here. Marianne is a young girl, living in a post-nuclear disaster America in an enclave of academics. Outside the fence, tribes of feral humans lea
This was a strange one to say the least (though not as strange as Ice!), and this review is going to be difficult to write, as I’m still mulling over Angela Carter’s beguiling 1969 novel, Heroes and Villains – half in fascination, half in bafflement.

Carter presents us with a future earth which, in the wake of a terrible conflict, has reverted back to the verdant tropical luxury of prehistoric times. Humanity itself has been vastly reduced, and the survivors are divided into several factions. The
Dan Griliopoulos
I mourn Angela Carter's untimely death more than any writer of our generation. She writes an elegant post-apocalypse, without unnecessary explanation or context-building. Her protagonists give us a real sense of what it's like to live in such a world just by living in it, without narrative tricks to reveal back-history. By making them error-prone and unclear in their thinking, she makes them even more believable. As good as Oryx and Crake, but more organically-real.
Samantha Young
Bizarre, violent and fantastical, another strange and provocative read from Ms. Carter. Amazingly enough, probably the most complicated and almost unlikeable 'heroines' of Angela Carter's so far, but still hypnotic. Heroes & Villain is a dystopian that has a lot to say about equality and subordination and is yet again another critique from Carter on patriarchy. I'm usually sucked under by Carter's dark and lyrical prose but it took me a while to get through this. Although well-written and pr ...more
Isabel (kittiwake)
During the war, the Professors were safe in the deep shelters, while everyone else had to survive as best they could on the surface. Centuries later, the Professors live in fortified villages with Workers to do the farming and housework. The villages are periodically raided by nomadic barbarian tribes, who take ammunition, cloth, food, and women, some of whom go willingly. And then there are the Out People, mutants who live in holes in the ground, use bows and arrows rather than guns, and attack ...more
This one was weird as all get out. I spent a lot of time wondering what the hell's happening and convincing myself not to DNF when things got too weird. I will say the story contained some beautifully constructed prose but the lengthy (pages worth) descriptions got a bit too tedious at times. The ending (if you can call it that) was incredibly abrupt and sort of ridiculous. Don't know if I'll take another chance with this author.
Laura Cooper
A book about the struggle between civilization and savagery, and of the attempts to make civilization out of barbarism, and time and society. Writing like a knife blade.
It does have descriptions of rape in a way that doesn't obliquely condemn it, so I would not recommend it if you are sensitive to these things.
A post-apocalyptic romance...or rather, an inversion of a romance? Where diminishing castes terrify and struggle against one another in a setting of devolution, reversal of history, and scraping out lives among ruins, facing civilization or barbarism.
The heroine escapes the dwindling, hermetic world of the Professors when she allows herself to be captured by a Barbarian. She descends into a shadow world of tenuous reality, becoming the bride of the Barbarian and realizing a terrifying power thr
This is another early effort from Angela Carter, and I have to say that it's not one of my favorites. It's post-apocalyptic and very weird. I found it hard to relate to ANY of the characters and all the perspectives just seemed to be missing something. The writing and thematic qualities are all there, but the characters themselves bog down the storytelling if that makes a lick of sense.

Once again her descriptions of poverty and filth are somewhat gag inducing, but... realistic. I think that's wh
I had to read this book for one of my undergraduate classes, and I didn't dislike it. It was thoughtful and very well described. However, Marianne and Jewel's abusive relationship, though it made sense in the barbaric-context, pissed me off. I only noticed one typo, which annoyed me, but otherwise a well-written book.
I would class this book as feminist with (very light) undertones of an apocalyptic world. It focuses mainly on Marianne and Jewel's so called relationship, and we see the two characters progress and change, although I think Marianne is more corrupted by Jewel than he is by her, though she would like to think otherwise.
I wasn't surprised at the crudeness and brutality that runs parallel to the story ( it is Carter after all) but I was at occasion bored by the lengthy -though quite detailed and o
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From Wikipedia: Born Angela Olive Stalker in Eastbourne, in 1940, Carter was evacuated as a child to live in Yorkshire with her maternal grandmother. As a teenager she battled anorexia. She began work as a journalist on the Croydon Advertiser, following in the footsteps of her father. Carter attended the University of Bristol where she studied English literature.

She married twice, first in 1960 to
More about Angela Carter...
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“Losing their names, these things underwent a process of uncreation.” 12 likes
“What do you see when you see me?' She asked him, burying her own face in his bosom.
'Do you want the truth?'
She nodded.
'The firing squad.'
'That's not the whole truth. Try again.'
'Insatiability,' he said with some bitterness.
'That's oblique but altogether too simple. Once more,' she insisted. 'One more time.'
He was silent for several minutes.
'The map of a country in which I only exist by virtue of the extravagance of my metaphors.'
'Now you're being too sophisticated. And, besides, what metaphors do we have in common?”
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