Angela Carter a Souvenir of Japan

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Angela Carter’s A Souvenir of Japan tells the story of a young Caucasian woman temporarily living in Japan. This woman narrates her experiences and observations of Japanese culture, and portrays the low placement of women in Japanese society. Much of the language Carter uses to describe the narrator’s Japanese lover is magical and linked to fairy tales. The narrator muses over her relationship and portrays her lover as a mysterious, almost unreal creature, using words such as “pixy” and “goblin”. Goblins are associated with evil and mischief and the narrator compares her lover to one because of a “subtle lack of alignment between face and body”, but she could also be suggesting he has goblin-like attributes and temperaments. His face seems like a “mask” to her and she believes that he is a Japanese “fox” masquerading as a human to practise “an enchantment” upon her. The language the narrator uses to describe her lover’s face does produce an image of a mask. His skin was “as smooth as water”, like that of a mask, and the “retractable” eye-lids and “bee-stung lips” resemble a mask or enchanted creature. His “purplish” mouth and eyes of a cat suggests that she believes he has elements of the uncanny or the ghostly doppelganger. The narrator also feminises the body of her lover, describing him as having “curious, androgynous grace” and “unusually well developed pectorals, almost like the breasts of a girl approaching puberty. The use of “too flat” and “too large” when describing his face suggests that the narrator finds the men in Japan very different and exotic to the ones from her home country. She notes in him “a passive, cruel sweetness” that she did not understand “for it was that of the repressed masochism which is usually confined to women in her country”. The narrator is fascinated by her Japanese lover and he becomes the projection of her own repressed femininity. She wants to have him “embalmed” and kept in a “glass coffin” for her to “watch him all the...
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