The Passion of New Eve is one of Angela Carter's most inflencial modernist texts. The actual novel itself, although fairly short in comparison to many other novels deals with a lot of extensive themes. The basic plot revolves around the character Evelyn, a steroetypical man who subjects women for his own pleasure, something that is exemplafied in his relationship with a young prostitute who he dumps after a botched attempt at an abortion of thier unborn child. As the novel progresses however it becomes clear that all is not as it seems, the environment becomes much more fanciful as science-fiction begins to take over the narrative, allowing Carter to exaggerate conventions that already exist in society in order to make us really understand how oppressive they can be. This subversion is mainly achieved through the fact that, half way through the novel, our main character Evelyn is captured by a feminist group and not only castrated but actually turned into a 'woman'. This restructuring of his outer self draws on Simone de Beavouir's ideas of feminintiy as a social construction, something that is not biologically inherent. Indeed this is true of the the character that has now become'Eve', as the rest of the plot revolves around his need to come to trerms with his new identity and the search for the object of his male desire the movie star, Tristessa. Along the way Carter introduces some very interesting characters, there is Mother, the Goddess of the feminist group who performs Evelyn's transformation, a gigantic, hideous woman with multiple breasts sown on in her own attempt to construct identity. Then there is Zero, an infertile man who refuses to speak in any human language and instead howls like a dog and who keeps seven wives, Eve of which is to be his eigth. Then there is Tristessa but I think I'll leave this character a bit ambiguous as this is the best suprise the novel has to offer and I wouldn't
want to spoil it for you. Overall a very good read, full of ineresting ideas about society and gender and not too difficult to get to grips with despite the wierdness of the action.
Ouch! As all men reading around the country, cross their legs and wince at the thought! Those of a nervous disposition would be well advised not to read Angela Carter’s The Passion of New Eve. But then again…you should! By now, you must know what a surreal taste in literature I have. Generally, the more surreal, the better. This novel didn’t disappoint me and gave a good balance between fantasy and reality with a number of themes that crop up. British born Evelyn arrives in New York amidst an America that is on the brink of civil war. He sees first hand, a barricade being built around Harlem, rats infesting the city, murders, muggings and the violence from vigil-anti groups like the “angry women”: feminism at its ugliest. He is then enchanted by Leilah, a prostitute, who he misogynistically treats according to her profession. When she becomes pregnant, Evelyn abandons her in a hospital after a botched abortion and heads for the desert. Lost, unable to explain his reasons for going and on the brink of death, he is captured by a group of women and taken to Beulah, an underground community where the women worship a many-breasted goddess called the Great Parricide, or as she is known by her followers, Mother. Here begins Evelyn’s transformation from a man, to a woman called Eve. Surgically re-gendered, Eve is to be the host for his/her own sperm and to be both father/mother and the Virgin Mother. But before the followers of Mother can impregnate Eve, she escapes and is left to realise the full horrors of how women can be treated and learns the truth of her past misdemeanours as a man and also meets her boyhood heroine, the Hollywood icon, Tristessa. This really is an outstanding plot with originality and unashamed bluntness. As well as the obvious themes associated with the transformation of Evelyn and Eve’s life after, the novel has an underlying plot of America
8217;s demise. A country undergoing transition and chaos at the same time as an individual is undergoing transformation and chaos. Make of this what you will. It’s interesting to note that The Passion of New Eve was first published in 1977. A decade itself undergoing much change, with an America in crisis following the Vietnam War and at a peak of feminist politics and psychosexual thought. Inevitably, this is a novel that reflects the changing world and Carter was obviously affected by the growing awareness of change. Without getting bogged down in psychology, Carter was influenced by psychosexual ideas. Eve, unexpectedly (to me anyhow) does fall in love and have sex with a man. I can only guess that Carter’s reasoning for this was that Eve in her knew guise of a woman, starts to behave and think as a woman. However even the man she falls for isn’t ‘real’ in every sense which provides a surprising twist in the narrative. What else do you want me to say? “Is there a happy ending?” What do you think? Angela Carter wrote with imagination but with a cynical eye firmly on reality. Some authors could learn a lot from her technique.
This story follows Evelyn, a young Englishman, along a journey through mythology and sexuality. It is a story of how he learns to be a woman, first in the brutal hands of Zero, the ragtime Nietzsche, then through the ancient Tristessa, the beautiful ghost of Hollywood past.