‘The Company of Wolves’ by Angela Carter

Angela Carter’s most famous book, The Bloody Chamber, is godmother to an entire genre, with its re-imagining of fairy tales through a feminist perspective. I sometimes wonder, as yet another young writer comes out with a book of inverted fantasy stories, whether they have been directly influenced by Carter, or whether the genre she created is so established that they don’t even realise. 

I first read this at university, not so long after it had been published, and it had already spawned the excellent film of the same name as this story. That the story of the film is a mere 11 pages long gives you a sense of the richness of Carter’s vision. In the revision of Little Red Riding Hood, the young girl who meets the charming hunter in the wood on the way to see her grandmother, is no ingenue, and no way is she going to be a wolf’s dinner. The phrase “some men are hairy on the inside” remains resonant. The story itself is a strange beast, part a history of wolf lore, part the Red Riding Hood tale. It continues to astonish. 

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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