Heroes and Villains
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Heroes and Villains

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  821 ratings  ·  52 reviews
Sharp-eyed Marianne lives in a white tower made of steel and concrete with her father and the other Professors. Outside, where the land is thickly wooded and wild beasts roam, live the Barbarians, who raid and pillage in order to survive.
Paperback, Penguin Modern Classics, 164 pages
Published February 3rd 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
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...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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...more
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...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...more
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...more
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...more
Grim, unlikeable characters, and it doesn't really go anywhere. Seriously considered giving this one up.
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.
Ben Jones
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...more
Another lush work by Carter, as usual, if brutal. The ending was devastatingly abrupt, but I enjoyed the frightening, beautiful, tense dynamic between Marianne and Jewel. I also liked the verdant aspect to the novel, the idea of savagery amidst nature and vegetation—not necessarily in contention, either, just merely in apposition. I'm in such awe of how all her characters manage to be so filthy (both figuratively and literally) and beautiful and disgusting and human all at once; I'm in awe of he...more
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...more
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
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
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...more
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...more
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...more

(...) If you just want a light, entertaining read, Carter’s Heroes and Villains is probably not for you. But if you’re looking for something a bit more challenging and thought-provoking, it’s worth checking out. The novel is odd but intriguing – though perhaps a bit frustrating at times. Carter certainly has her own agenda, and you won’t find what you expect from a ‘post-apocalyptic’ tale if what you have in mind is The Day After Tomorrow or War of the Wor...more
Although it isn't the most fluent of texts (Carter has a tendency to forget to use punctuation so as to allow the reader to pause), the descrptions are often vivid and gripping. The real beauty of this novel is it's ability to make the reader question what we percieve as being right and wrong - hence the title of 'Heroes and Villains. If you can ignore the sometimes ridiculous plot and overlook the fact that it can't decide what genre it belongs to, a most enjoyable read is in store.
An absolutely strange, mesmerizing, compelling, abhorring and grim work of fiction, which is a cross-over between a gothic fairytale and a surrealistic fantasy. It bears strong signs of magical realism and maybe even compares to paintings of Dali. The entire story reads like a dream or a hallucination in which time and reality don't count. At times it attracted me yet at the same time appalled me like the two main characters in the story appal and attract each other constantly.
set in a post-apocalyptic/ post 'event' period where society has been established and compounds for professors were planned in advance. the female protagonist runs away to join the Barbarians who fend for themselves. An intriguing analysis of the role religion and tradition plays in a world where it does not exist except when implemented by a learned man. While the ending is open-ended and abrupt (wanted more!) this is a very good book. Not good for younger readers however.
Ruth Fairbairn
Kind of similar to Brave New World, but more of a woman's perspective
I came across this in Foyles and bought it for my flight back to Virginia for a wedding, because I fell in love with Angela Carter's writing in The Bloody Chamber. I didn't like this quite as much, but it's still a very interesting read - a post-apocalyptic gothic novel that explores cross-cultural consciousness and features the protagonist and her husband trapped within that lens.
Tracy Buchanan
In my top 10 of all favourite books, this is the dystopian that came before all the others (well, in my reading experiences anyway!). As always with Angela Carter, the imagery and world she evokes are awe-inspiring; her characters are savage, strong, gutsy things that sear themselves onto your mind. I wish more people talked about this and read this wonderful novel!
A post-apocalyptic story, which is a genre I really like. This one didn't quite do it for me, however: I found the world fascinating, but the characters who inhabited it remained strangers to me (and the anti-climatic climax didn't help much, either). A book I didn't so much enjoy as find occasionally interesting.
I really wish there was a 3-1/2 star option....I would say this book is definitely worth reading, but I still hesitate in giving it the full four stars. I've never read this author and although this book didn't make me cling to it for dear life, it does make me want to read more of Angela Carter.
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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
More about Angela Carter...
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“Losing their names, these things underwent a process of uncreation.” 11 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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