‘The Company of Wolves’ by Angela Carter

Now a great howling rose up all around them, near, very near, as close as the kitchen garden, the howling of a multitude of wolves; she knew the worst wolves are hairy on the inside and she shivered, in spite of the scarlet shawl she pulled more closely round herself as if it could protect her although it was as red as the blood she must spill.

This was the first Angela Carter I read. Of course, it blew my mind; not just her audacious reimagining of a seemingly innocent fairy story but the sensuousness of the language, the juicy tactility, the earthiness of the prose, all guts and gristle. It is wonderfully subversive and playful – for in Carter play is deadly serious –and of course the ending does not lead where one expects it to. 
 
I bought The Bloody Chamber but I think I went straight to ‘The Company of Wolves’ because I loved Neil Jordan’s film of it. It may not the greatest of her stories, but it is the one I’ve gone back to the most times.

First published in Bananas, 1977. Collected in The Bloody Chamber, Gollancz, 1979, and in Burning Your Boats: Collected Stories, Vintage, 1996

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