Marina Warner

Marina Warner's ‘unreliable memoir’ about her parents in Cairo in the years after World War Two, Inventory of a Life Mislaid, is out now.

I ain’t afeared: In Her Classroom

Marina Warner, 9 September 2021

In​ 1945, 21-year-old Beryl Answick graduated with a first class diploma from the teacher training college in Georgetown, capital of what was then British Guiana. Guyanese education at the time was rigid and the (tamarind) rod much in evidence: ‘Children … were expected to know certain facts, the relevance of which did not always matter,’ she remembered. Chafing at these...

Men are just boys: Boys’ Play

Marina Warner, 6 May 2021

Afewyears ago, while looking at some early examples of children’s books, I came across a richly coloured catechism listing dos and don’ts: good little children don’t pull the wings off butterflies, or tease their tabby cat, and – this was an expensive, finely printed volume from the early 19th century – a good boy doesn’t throw his footman out of the...

Name the days: Holy Spirits

Marina Warner, 4 February 2021

In​ the insistent and repetitive rhythm of lockdown, one month melts into another, but the monotony is shot through with dread that comes and goes with terrible intensity. The combination of plague-stricken suspension – the new Covidian temporality – and uncertainty about what’s still in store has made me wonder about old forms of timekeeping. Did they serve to make the...

Imps and Ogres

Marina Warner, 6 June 2019

In​ 1956, Lorenza Mazzetti, then a student at the Slade, made a film called Together, with her fellow artists Michael Andrews and Eduardo Paolozzi playing the main parts. She shot it in the bombed-out East End, which gaggles of children had made their territory; her camera catches the wild scrambling, dash and hurtle of scores of boys and girls playing together in the puddles and the...

In​ the early 1960s, David Hockney made a series of etchings inspired by the poems of Constantine Cavafy; he went to Egypt to discover the places Cavafy had drunk coffee and picked up lovers, but in the images it’s mainly Hockney’s own life and friends who figure. The etchings touch on rapture, and the frankness of their erotic pleasure at the sight and memory of boys in bed...

There can be no new reader, and therefore perhaps no wholly new reading of the collection of stories known as The Arabian Nights. Not because they have been exhausted by retelling and...

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A memorable image in Robert Musil’s Man without Qualities likens the impact of a certain character to that of a powdery avalanche. The effect of reading Marina Warner’s magisterial...

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Some Evil Thing

James Davidson, 18 February 1999

Marina Warner’s No Go the Bogeyman: Scaring, Lulling and Making Mock is an impossible book. It circles around monsters and the frightening of children, but it also has chapters on the...

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Once upon a Real Time

Wendy Doniger, 23 March 1995

If women are the ones who tell fairy tales, why do fairy tales paint such ugly pictures of women? Or, as Marina Warner puts it, ‘If and when women are narrating, why are the female...

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Fear of Rabid Dogs

Margaret Anne Doody, 18 August 1994

In his last days, the exiled and ageing Aristotle wrote to a friend: ‘The lonelier and the more isolated I am, the more I have come to love myths.’ We may puzzle over what Aristotle...

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Sea Changes

Patrick Parrinder, 27 February 1992

The British, a nation of Sancho Panzas, like to dream of governing an island. The majority of ideal states both ancient and modern have been imaginary cities rather than sea-girt lumps of rock,...

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Making and Breaking

Rosalind Mitchison, 21 December 1989

Nobody could call Frank Honigsbaum’s book ‘user friendly’. Some reasons for its indigestibility are inherent in the topic: the moves, some effective, most frustrated, by civil...

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Let’s get the hell out of here

Patrick Parrinder, 29 September 1988

Here, in these three novels, are three representations of the state of the art. In The Satanic Verses the narrator, who may or may not be the Devil, confides that ‘what follows is tragedy....

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The nude strikes back

John Bayley, 7 November 1985

The psychologist John Layard – ‘Loony Layard’, as he is affectionately termed in one of Auden’s early poems – is said to have told a submarine officer that he had...

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Nationalities

John Sutherland, 6 May 1982

A new novel by Günter Grass invites comparisons of a national kind. If a British writer of fiction wished to engage with the big stories of the day – the kind of thing Brian Walden...

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Joan and Jill

V.G. Kiernan, 15 October 1981

In 1870, Daumier drew a cartoon of soldiers filing past a monument of the fatherland, with the caption: ‘Ceux qui vont mourir te saluent.’ Wandering about quiet French churches, one...

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