Lucia Esposito

Victorian Polyphonies: Angela Carter’s Radio Paintings

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The article focuses on the radio play Come unto these Yellow Sands by Angela Carter, aired by the BBC in 1979 and winner of the Sony Award in the same year of the broadcast. Concentrated on the biography and works of the Victorian painter Richard Dadd, who went mad and killed his father after a perturbing grand tour in the Eastern countries, the work is actually a piece of cultural criticism. Its ideological targets are the patriarchal and Eurocentric constructs that Carter sees as substantiating the taste for fairy subjects and for the exotic in Victorian times. The purpose of this analysis will be to demonstrate how the use of the radio medium proves to be particularly congenial to the writer’s aims. It allows the sensory thematization of a dispute within which the disengagement of sound and voices from the oculocentric objectification of reality allows the traditional objects of the male and tourist gaze – such as the succulent fairies of the paintings or the exoticized inhabitants of the East to gain a voice and a performative agency.


  • Angela Carter
  • Victorian painting
  • radio drama


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