Different versions of Charles Perrault’s French fairy tale “Bluebeard” proliferated throughout the latter half of the twentieth century. From Max Frisch’s novel Bluebeard: A Tale (1982) to Charles Ludlam’s avant-garde play Bluebeard (1987) and Donald Barthelme’s story “Bluebeard” (1987), these referential texts are simultaneous with one another and foreground the reader’s own complicity and processes in reading intertextually. This chapter examines contemporary forms of “Bluebeard” in the Anglophone tradition and how they actualize self-reflexivity to explore various crises of artistic representation. These works include Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Bluebeard (1987), Edward Dmytryk’s film Bluebeard (1972), Cindy Sherman’s book Fitcher’s Bird (1992), the Mills and Boon/Harlequin romance Bluebeard’s Bride (1985), and Celia Fremlin’s story “Bluebeard’s Key” (1985). The chapter also analyzes the films The Silence of the Lambs (1991) and The Piano (1993), along with the works of the contemporary women writers Margaret Atwood and Angela Carter.
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