Jim Leckband's Reviews > Nights at the Circus

Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter
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's review
Oct 06, 2011

really liked it
Read from October 06 to 11, 2011

The overwhelming sense I got from finishing the book - which ends on the last New Year's Eve of the 19th century - is that the real Nights at the Circus are going to be the horrors and wonders of the 20th century. Carter alludes to the ways of the future while slyly hinting at modernization, the Holocaust, Siege of Stalingrad, Communism, the rise of the US as opposed to the UK. But all this is woven into the wacky narratives of the main characters - the winged Sophia Fevvers and the newspaper hack Jack Walser.

The main thrust of the book has to be that of feminism. How society has treated "woman" and how Fevvers (and Lizzie and the other female characters) react against it is the main propulsive question of the narratives.

The train wreck of the circus in the middle of the book is a wonderful allegory of the nineteenth century meeting the twentieth - in Russia of all apt places - the train wreck of the imperialist circus. You didn't expect the book to get there but the adventures of the circus crew afterwards were great to follow.
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