Bluebeard's Legacy: Death and Secrets from Bartok to Hitchcock (2009) edited by Griselda Pollock & Victoria Anderson March
The tale of the serial wife-murderer Bluebeard, his defiant, and surviving, final wife, a bloodied key and a secret chamber of horrors, has fascinated writers, composers, artists and film-makers throughout modern times. It is a unique story that dares to disclose and explore masculine violence: the homme fatal. This transdisciplinary book explores the deep appeal of the Bluebeard story for twentieth-century culture. Its major focus is how the modernist imagination used the elements of Bluebeard's tale to explore masculinity's anxieties in the face of the emerging demands of women for redefinition and sexual equality: anxieties also of ethnic and cultural difference, and fundamental disquiet about sexuality, pathology and violence in the masculine. With chapters by Maria Tatar, Elisabeth Bronfen, Mererid Puw Davies, Ian Christie, David Cooper, Michael Hiltbrunner and the editors, the volume undertakes cultural, contextual and musicological analyses of Bartók's opera 'Duke Bluebeard's Castle', tracing Bluebeard's evolution from Perrault in the seventeenth century to the cinematic hommes fatals of Méliès, Fritz Lang and Hitchcock. The result is an intriguing kaleidoscope of sexuality, curiosity, violence and death.