Bluebeard's Legacy: Death and Secrets from Bartok to by Victoria Anderson, Griselda Pollock

By Victoria Anderson, Griselda Pollock

The story of the serial wife-murderer Bluebeard, his defiant, and surviving, ultimate spouse, a bloodied key and a mystery chamber of horrors, has interested writers, composers, artists and film-makers all through smooth occasions. it's a distinct tale that dares to reveal and discover masculine violence: the homme fatal.This  transdisciplinary booklet explores the deep attraction of the Bluebeard tale for twentieth-century tradition. Its significant concentration is how the modernist mind's eye used the weather of Bluebeard’s story to discover masculinity’s anxieties within the face of the rising calls for of ladies for redefinition and sexual equality: anxieties additionally of ethnic and cultural distinction, and basic disquiet approximately sexuality, pathology and violence within the masculine.Starting with investigations into Bartók’s opera 'Duke Bluebeard’s Castle', significant cultural thinkers, together with Elisabeth Bronfen, Ian Christie, Griselda Pollock and Maria Tatar, hint Bluebeard’s evolution from Perrault within the 17th century  to the cinematic hommes fatals of Méliès, Fritz Lang and Hitchcock. the result's an exciting kaleidoscope of sexuality, interest, violence and dying.

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She burst into a torrent of sobbing. No, it was impossible. Johnnie could not be going to kill her. Not Johnnie […]. At any moment Johnnie might come in—break the door down and kill her in her own bedroom: throw her out of the window on to the flagstones below and say she had fallen—anything. 13 Bluebeard films stage a double movement between agency and victimization, between a sense of adventure and timidity, between investigative curiosity and masochism, always within the confines of marriage. Campion, Hitchcock and Lang alike position women as active bearers of the gaze and as detectives, analysts, or interpreters, but they simultaneously ensure that those investigative powers, analytic skills, and interpretive talents are confined to the site of domesticity, restricted to problem-solving within the context of a marriage.

Yet this reading misses the disturbing elements in Celia’s character, the ways in which her passion for Mark is tainted by a dangerous mix of erotic and destructive desires. 10 In the female noir, the women are, like their male counterparts, strangely immobilized, despite their investigative vigour. ’11 Combining cerebral investigative powers with dark romantic desires, the women in Bluebeard films use their brains to penetrate the secret pathologies of the men they love and to dismantle sophisticated defences against intimacy.

He gestures to the Grandmother’s flesh and blood, and the girl duly partakes of the grim fare. ’ Then the wolf bids the girl undress bit by bit, and as she removes each item of clothing, tells her to throw it in the fire. Finally the wolf tells the girl to get into the bed; the girl says INTRODUCTION 11 she really needs to go outside to defecate. The wolf allows her to go, and ties a piece of string to her leg so that she can’t escape. 23 As Jack Zipes observes, ‘Perrault’s changes were substantive in both style and content […] The irony of his narration suggests that he sought to appeal to the erotic and playful side of adult readers who took pleasure in naughty stories of seduction,’24 although arguably ‘The Grandmother’s Tale’ also enacts this same kind of playfulness that appeals to the risqué tastes of adults as well as becoming a didactic tale of warning for children (and indeed women at risk of sexual assault).

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