According to Angela Carter, surrealism did not involve inventing extraordinary things to look at; it involved looking at the world as though it were strange. This comment is an apt definition of the surrealist project to defamiliarise everyday reality, of rendering the familiar strange, uncanny or dreamlike in order to reveal the marvellous within. It also captures the essence of Carter's own surrealist practice in her debut novel Shadow Dance. As many critics have argued, Shadow Dance contains descriptive elements of Carter's contemporary geographical and cultural context. Carter's alignment with the historical avant-garde thus serves as a revolt both against static cultural conventions, including prescribed versions of gendered behaviour, and against what she perceived as the contemporary British literary scene. The violence to which Ghislaine is subjected is symptomatic of a culture in which the notion of woman is connected with victimhood and passivity: this is the ugly reality Carter diagnoses and critiques in Shadow Dance.