A brilliant examination of the allegorical uses of the female form to be found in the sculpture ornamenting public buildings as well as throughout the history of western art.
In this landmark study of the history and meaning of fairy tales, the celebrated cultural critic Marina Warner looks at storytelling in art and legend-from the prophesying enchantress who lures men to a false paradise, to jolly Mother Goose with her masqueraders in the real world. Why are storytellers so often women, and how does that affect the status of fairy tales? Are they a source of wisdom or a misleading temptation to indulge in romancing?
In early 1994 Marina Warner delivered the prestigious Reith Lectures for the BBC. In a series of six lectures, she takes areas of contemporary concern and relates them to stories from mythology and fairy tale which continue to grip the modern imagination. She analyses the fury about single mothers and the anxiety about masculinity in the light of ideals about male heroism and control; the current despair about children and the loss of childhood innocence; the changing attitude of myths about wild men and beasts and the undertow of racism which is expressed in myths about savages and cannibals. The last lecture, on home, brings the themes together to examine ideas about who we are and where we belong, with reference to the British nation and its way of telling its own history. Using a range of examples from video games to Turner's paintings, from popular films to Keats, Marina Warner interweaves her critique of fantasy, dream and prejudice.
Marina Warner has gathered together a magical collection of fairy tales by the great women storytellers of the 17th and 18th centuries. These are passionate, extraordinary, and occasionally proto-feminist retellings of classic fairy stories by women who ingeniously used the fairy tale genre to comment on their own times and experiences. The stories are all in superb new translations by celebrated writers, including A. S. Byatt, Gilbert Adair and John Ashbery. With a brilliant intorduction by Marina Warner, recognised as one of our greatest experts on myth and fairy tale.
In Monsters of Our Own Making, Marina Warner explores the dark realm where ogres devour children and bogeymen haunt the night. She considers the enduring presence and popularity of male figures of terror, establishing their origins in mythology and their current relation to ideas about sexuality and power, youth and age.
Inspired by The Tempest, INDIGO traces the scars of colonialism across continents, family blood-lines and three centuries. Rich, sensual and magical in its use of myths and fairytales INDIGO explores the intertwined histories of the Everard family and the imaginary Caribbean island where Ariel, Caliban, and his mother, the healer and dyer of indigo, Sycorax once lived.
This unique study of the cult of the Virgin Mary offers a way of thinking about the interrelations of Catholicism and ideas of ideal femininity over the longue duree. An ambitious history of the changing symbolism of the Mother of God, Alone of All Her Sex holds up to the light different emphases occurring at different times, and highlights that the apparent archetype of a magna mater is constantly in play with social and historical conditions and values. Marina Warner's interesting perspective was forged in the aftermath of significant postwar developments in history, anthropology, and feminism and the book inspired fierce debates when it was first published in 1976. Alone of All Her Sex is also an emotive, personal statement, arising from Warner's own upbringing as a Catholic. It picks up on classic accounts such as Mary MacCarthy's Memoirs of a Catholic Girlhood and Antonia White's Frost in May, as well as the author's own experiences at a Catholic boarding school. Highlycontroversial in conservative quarters, the book's arguments were welcomed and recognised by many readers who shared Warner's experiences. In this new edition, Marina Warner has written a new preface which reviews the book in the light of the current debate about secularism, faith, nations, and social identities. She takes issue with her original mistaken conclusion that the modern age would see the cult of Mary fade away and revises it in the light of recent popes' enthusiasm for the Motherof God, a fresh wave of visions and revelations, a new generation of female saints, and the reorientation of theological approaches to the woman question.
Charles, and English writer living in Paris, reads his newest novel, based on his own affair with a married man, to Adolphe, a successful film director
Sian's life holds few pleasures until Ryan Ackley arrives in her remote Welsh village. Sian and Ryan are reincarnations of Celtic lovers, slaughtered long ago. A murderous spirit has followed them through time; reunited in the 21st century, he plans to fulfil his malevolent vendetta.
Built in the fifth century b.c., the Parthenon has been venerated for more than two millennia as the West’s ultimate paragon of beauty and proportion. Since the Enlightenment, it has also come to represent our political ideals, the lavish temple to the goddess Athena serving as the model for our most hallowed civic architecture. But how much do the values of those who built the Parthenon truly correspond with our own? And apart from the significance with which we have invested it, what exactly did this marvel of human hands mean to those who made it? In this revolutionary book, Joan Breton Connelly challenges our most basic assumptions about the Parthenon and the ancient Athenians. Beginning with the natural environment and its rich mythic associations, she re-creates the development of the Acropolis—the Sacred Rock at the heart of the city-state—from its prehistoric origins to its Periklean glory days as a constellation of temples among which the Parthenon stood supreme. In particular, she probes the Parthenon’s legendary frieze: the 525-foot-long relief sculpture that originally encircled the upper reaches before it was partially destroyed by Venetian cannon fire (in the seventeenth century) and most of what remained was shipped off to Britain (in the nineteenth century) among the Elgin marbles. The frieze’s vast enigmatic procession—a dazzling pageant of cavalrymen and elders, musicians and maidens—has for more than two hundred years been thought to represent a scene of annual civic celebration in the birthplace of democracy. But thanks to a once-lost play by Euripides (the discovery of which, in the wrappings of a Hellenistic Egyptian mummy, is only one of this book’s intriguing adventures), Connelly has uncovered a long-buried meaning, a story of human sacrifice set during the city’s mythic founding. In a society startlingly preoccupied with cult ritual, this story was at the core of what it meant to be Athenian. Connelly reveals a world that beggars our popular notions of Athens as a city of staid philosophers, rationalists, and rhetoricians, a world in which our modern secular conception of democracy would have been simply incomprehensible. The Parthenon’s full significance has been obscured until now owing in no small part, Connelly argues, to the frieze’s dismemberment. And so her investigation concludes with a call to reunite the pieces, in order that what is perhaps the greatest single work of art surviving from antiquity may be viewed more nearly as its makers intended. Marshalling a breathtaking range of textual and visual evidence, full of fresh insights woven into a thrilling narrative that brings the distant past to life, The Parthenon Enigma is sure to become a landmark in our understanding of the civilization from which we claim cultural descent.
Memory is as central to modern politics as politics is central to modern memory. We are so accustomed to living in a forest of monuments, to having the past represented to us through museums, historic sites, and public sculpture, that we easily lose sight of the recent origins and diverse meanings of these uniquely modern phenomena. In this volume, leading historians, anthropologists, and ethnographers explore the relationship between collective memory and national identity in diverse cultures throughout history. Placing commemorations in their historical settings, the contributors disclose the contested nature of these monuments by showing how groups and individuals struggle to shape the past to their own ends. The volume is introduced by John Gillis's broad overview of the development of public memory in relation to the history of the nation-state. Other contributions address the usefulness of identity as a cross-cultural concept (Richard Handler), the connection between identity, heritage, and history (David Lowenthal), national memory in early modern England (David Cressy), commemoration in Cleveland (John Bodnar), the museum and the politics of social control in modern Iraq (Eric Davis), invented tradition and collective memory in Israel (Yael Zerubavel), black emancipation and the civil war monument (Kirk Savage), memory and naming in the Great War (Thomas Laqueur), American commemoration of World War I (Kurt Piehler), art, commerce, and the production of memory in France after World War I (Daniel Sherman), historic preservation in twentieth-century Germany (Rudy Koshar), the struggle over French identity in the early twentieth century (Herman Lebovics), and the commemoration of concentration camps in the new Germany (Claudia Koonz).
When a mummy in the Museum of Albion is unpacked it is found to contain a bundle of curious objects and documents which tell of the wanderings of an unknown woman, Leto. On the run, in a far-off era of civil strife, Leto gives birth to twins, shelters with wolves, survives in a desert stronghold as the lover of its commander, stows away on a ship loaded with plundered antiquities and then works as a maid in a war-torn city. She loses her son but saves her daughter during a long siege. As the novel sweeps from mythological times and the Middle Ages to the treasure-hunting of Victorian Europe and into the present day, Leto reappears in different guises. Eventually she becomes a servant to a rock singer, and begins to search for her son.
Our foremost theorist of myth, fairytale, and folktale explores the magical realm of the imagination where carpets fly and genies grant prophetic wishes. Stranger Magic examines the profound impact of the Arabian Nights on the West, the progressive exoticization of magic, and the growing acceptance of myth and magic in contemporary experience.
Over the past two hundred years, thousands of ancient Greek vases have been unearthed. Yet these artifacts remain a challenge: what did the images depicted on these vases actually mean to ancient Greek viewers? In this long-awaited book, Gloria Ferrari uses Athenian vases, literary evidence, and other works of art from the Archaic and Classical periods (520-400 B.C.) to investigate what these items can tell us about the ancient Greeks—specifically, their notions of gender. Ferrari begins by developing a theoretical perspective on visual representation, arguing that artistic images give us access to how their subjects were imagined rather than to the way they really were. For instance, Ferrari's examinations of the many representations of women working wool reveal that these images constitute powerful metaphors—metaphors, she argues, which both reflect and construct Greek conceptions of the ideal woman and her ideal behavior. From this perspective, Ferrari studies a number of icons representing blameless femininity and ideal masculinity to reevaluate the rites of passage by which girls are made ready for marriage and boys become men. Representations of the nude male body in Archaic statues known as kouroi, for example, symbolize manhood itself and shed new light on the much-discussed institution of paiderastia. And, in Ferrari's hands, imagery equating maidens with arable land and buried treasure provides a fresh view of Greek ideas of matrimony. Innovative, thought-provoking, and insightful throughout, Figures of Speech is a powerful demonstration of how the study of visual images as well as texts can reshape our understanding of ancient Greek culture.
Joan has a unique role in Western imagination--she is one of the few true female heroes. Marina Warner uses her superb historical and literary skills to move beyond conventional biography and to capture the essence of Joan of Arc, both as she lived in her own time and as she has "grown" in the human imagination over the five centuries since her death. She has examined the court documents from Joan of Arc's 1431 Inquisition trial for heresy and woven the facts together with an analysis of the histories, biographies, plays, and paintings and sculptures that have appeared over time to honor this heroine and symbol of France's nationhood. Warner shows how the few facts that are known about the woman Joan have been shaped to suit the aims of those who have chosen her as their hero. The book places Joan in the context of the mythology of the female hero and takes note of her historical antecedents, both pagan and Christian and the role she has played up to the present as the embodiment of an ideal, whether as Amazon, saint, child of nature, or personification of virtue.
Information about women is scattered throughout the fragmented mosaic of ancient history: the vivid poetry of Sappho survived antiquity on remnants of damaged papyrus; the inscription on a beautiful fourth century B.C.E. grave praises the virtues of Mnesarete, an Athenian woman who died young; a great number of Roman wives were found guilty of poisoning their husbands, but was it accidental food poisoning, or disease, or something more sinister. Apart from the legends of Cleopatra, Dido and Lucretia, and images of graceful maidens dancing on urns, the evidence about the lives of women of the classical world--visual, archaeological, and written--has remained uncollected and uninterpreted. Now, the lavishly illustrated and meticulously researched Women in the Classical World lifts the curtain on the women of ancient Greece and Rome, exploring the lives of slaves and prostitutes, Athenian housewives, and Rome's imperial family. The first book on classical women to give equal weight to written texts and artistic representations, it brings together a great wealth of materials--poetry, vase painting, legislation, medical treatises, architecture, religious and funerary art, women's ornaments, historical epics, political speeches, even ancient coins--to present women in the historical and cultural context of their time. Written by leading experts in the fields of ancient history and art history, women's studies, and Greek and Roman literature, the book's chronological arrangement allows the changing roles of women to unfold over a thousand-year period, beginning in the eighth century B.C.E. Both the art and the literature highlight women's creativity, sexuality and coming of age, marriage and childrearing, religious and public roles, and other themes. Fascinating chapters report on the wild behavior of Spartan and Etruscan women and the mythical Amazons; the changing views of the female body presented in male-authored gynecological treatises; the "new woman" represented by the love poetry of the late Republic and Augustan Age; and the traces of upper- and lower-class life in Pompeii, miraculously preserved by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 C.E. Provocative and surprising, Women in the Classical World is a masterly foray into the past, and a definitive statement on the lives of women in ancient Greece and Rome.
From wicked queens, beautiful princesses, elves, monsters, and goblins to giants, glass slippers, poisoned apples, magic keys, and mirrors, the characters and images of fairy tales have cast a spell over readers and audiences, both adults and children, for centuries. These fantastic stories have travelled across cultural borders, and been passed on from generation to generation, ever-changing, renewed with each re-telling. Few forms of literature have greater power to enchant us and rekindle our imagination than a fairy tale. But what is a fairy tale? Where do they come from and what do they mean? What do they try and communicate to us about morality, sexuality, and society? The range of fairy tales stretches across great distances and time; their history is entangled with folklore and myth, and their inspiration draws on ideas about nature and the supernatural, imagination and fantasy, psychoanalysis, and feminism. Marina Warner has loved fairy tales over a long writing life, and she explores here a multitude of tales through the ages, their different manifestations on the page, the stage, and the screen. From the phenomenal rise of Victorian and Edwardian literature to contemporary children's stories, Warner unfolds a glittering array of examples, from classics such as Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, and The Sleeping Beauty, the Grimm Brothers' Hansel and Gretel, and Hans Andersen's The Little Mermaid, to modern-day realizations including Walt Disney's Snow White and gothic interpretations such as Pan's Labyrinth. In ten succinct chapters, Marina Warner digs into a rich hoard of fairy tales in their brilliant and fantastical variations, in order to define a genre and evaluate a literary form that keeps shifting through time and history. Her book makes a persuasive case for fairy tale as a crucial repository of human understanding and culture.
For the first time an award-winning Harvard professor shares the lessons from his wildly popular course on classical Chinese philosophy, showing you how these ancient ideas can guide you on the path to a good life today. The lessons taught by ancient Chinese philosophers surprisingly still apply, and they challenge our fundamental assumptions about how to lead a fulfilled, happy, and successful life. Self-discovery, it turns out, comes through looking outward, not inward. Power comes from holding back. Good relationships come from small gestures. Spontaneity comes from practice. And excellence comes from what you choose to do, not your “natural” abilities. Counterintuitive. Countercultural. Even revolutionary. These powerful ideas have made Professor Michael Puett's course the third most popular at Harvard University in recent years, with enrollment surging every year since it was first offered in 2006. It's clear students are drawn by a bold promise Professor Puett makes on the first day of class: “These ideas will change your life.” Now he offers his course to the world.

Best Books