Corporeal and Textual Performance as Ironic Confidence Trick in Angela Carter's Nights at the Circus




This paper examines performativity in its relation to textuality, corporeality and femininity in Angela Carter's Nights at the Circus (1984). I wish to reveal parallel spectacular, seductive and tricky performances of bodies and texts. My reading of spectacular corporeal and textual performances focuses on the heroine, revealing how Fevvers' parading deconstructive performances of ideologically prescribed femininity, and its limiting representations, coincide with the narrative's spectacular revisions of literary genres and writing styles, identified by discursive technologies of power with femininity and thus conventionally canonized as sentimentally kitsch or incomprehensibly hysterical modes of writing. My gender sensitive, reader-response approach also highlights the bifocal pleasures, tender irony and sisterly burlesque of the self-mockingly silly and histrionic hysteric "feminine" textual performance in order to reveal that the conventional concepts of a domineering patriarchal language violently incorporating and domineering weaker écriture féminine are demythologized. My final aim is to examine how Fevvers' confidence trick unveils that there are other wor(l)ds available for daring women writers and readers alike.