Tales of Bluebeard and His Wives from Late Antiquity to Postmodern Times
Routledge – 2009 – 194 pages
This project provides an in-depth study of narratives about Bluebeard and his wives, or narratives with identifiable Bluebeard motifs, and the intertextual and extratextual personal, political, literary, and sociocultural factors that have made the tale a particularly fertile ground for an author’s adaptation of the story. Whereas Charles Dickens, for example, expresses a sympathetic identification with Bluebeard, and a discernable strain of misogyny emerges in his recreation of the tale and recurrent allusions to it, his contemporary, William Makepeace Thackeray, uses the tale as a springboard for his critique of avarice, hypocrisy, pretension, and the subjugation of women in Victorian society.
"This is a subtle and multi-threaded book that will prove interesting to a wide variety of readers…Barzilai’s sophisticated approach combines intertextual readings with an extratextual viewpoint that explores the interplay between stories using the Bluebeard theme and the story author’s lives." --Francisco Vas da Silva, Marvels & Tales
Introduction 1. The Snake-Charmer's Wife in Genesis Rabbah 2. Charles Dickens and Captain Murderer 3. My. Thackeray's Closet 4. Miss Thackeray's Uses of Enchantment 5. The Infernal Desire Machines in Anne Thackeray Ritchie's Bluebeard's Keys and Angela Carter's "The Bloody Chamber" 6. The Bluebeard Syndrom in Margaret Atwood's Lady Oracle: Fear and Femininity 7. When Texts Get Together: The Party Consciousness in Margaret Atwood's "Bluebeard's Egg"
Shuli Barzilai is Professor of English at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.