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Comment: Publisher: Oxford University Press
Date of Publication: 2006
Binding: hardcover
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Description: ISBN:9780199299942 Used Hardcover. 'Spirit visions, metaphors, and media into the Twenty-first century'. Dust jacket is a little edge-worn and has a few minor scores. Jacket spine head and upper leading corners are quite worn. Several light stains on lower edge of front board. Minor wear on hardcover spine ends. Several small marks and stains on page block. Upper leading corners of pages 199-204 are creased and tanned. Binding is sound. Text and illustrations are clear. AF
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Phantasmagoria: Spirit Visions, Metaphors, and Media into the Twenty-first Century Hardcover – 12 Oct 2006


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (12 Oct. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199299943
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199299942
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 4.6 x 15.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 145,700 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

Warner's writing has a touch of Jorge Luis Borges's mischievousness. (Richard Mabey, Guardian Books of the Year)

Her dazzling deconstructions of myths and folk tales [are] always touched with a few spells of her own. (Richard Mabey, Guardian Books of the Year)

...often manages splendidly vivid pictorial evocations ... a bold, imaginative and provocative study, with a range few other writers would dare. (Carolyne Larrington, Times Literary Supplement)

The general effect is rather like that of reading through a first-class encyclopedia. (Nigel Barley, Times Higher Education Supplement)

Frighteningly literate and well-informed (Roz Kaveney, Time Out)

Marina Warner is particularly well-equipped to conduct this investigation (Steven Connor, The Independent)

She is exquisitely alive not just to ideas and arguments, but also to the jag and whiff and tang of things (Steven Connor, The Independent)

Phantasmagoria is a cabinet of familiar wonders: a jetting, generous, humane spree of thought, richly quickened by the life it finds within us and adroad, in our media and machineries of mind. (Steven Connor, The Independent)

As always Warner's scholarship, eclecticism and inventiveness dazzle. (Bel Mooney, The Times)

It is a book of wonders. (Hilary Mantel,The Guardian)

Phantasmagoria is a fascinating history of spirited bodies and haunted machines, but a reminder too of why the metaphors still get under our skin (Brian Dillon, Daily Telegraph)

This book's enquiries are wide-ranging, pertinent and up-to- date. All Marina Warner's material is freshly and enticingly presented. (The Guardian, Hilary Mantel)

This book is a powerful statement. (Hilary Mantel,The Guardian)

Marina Warner is particularly well-equipped to conduct this investigation. (Stephen Connor, The Independent)

A densely layered book (Mike Dash, Sunday Telegraph)

She is exquisitely alive not just to ideas and arguments, but also to the jag and whiff and tang of things. (Stephen Connor, The Independent)

Phantasmagoria is a cabinet of familiar wonders: a jetting, generous, humane spree of thought, richly quickened by the life it finds within us and abroad, in our media and machineries of mind. (Stephen Connor, The Independent)

Splendidly vivid pictorial evocations...it is a bold, imaginative and provocative study, with a range few other writers would dare.

About the Author

Marina Warner is Professor of Literature at the University of Essex, an Honorary Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, and a Visiting Professor at St. Andrew's University, Scotland. An acclaimed novelist and mythographer, she was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2005.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Gil Dekel on 17 Aug. 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book deals with projections of subconscious memories, and discusses the inner reality of the self as an imaginary state, situated under historical and technological influences.
However, the book exemplifies phantasms so well within wide range of 'scientific' endeavours and authentic artistic activities (see pages 115-118) that I am left convinced that the spirit is not illusory but does exist or at least hold a valid reality. By showing so well the existence of the illusory state of the spirit, I am left feeling that it is not illusionary at all. This is fascinating. A remarkable achievement and intriguing work, by author Marina Warner.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 1 review
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
The Historical Mystery of the Soul 9 Dec. 2006
By R. Hardy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
In a spoof of a college curriculum brochure, Woody Allen listed the following course description: "Metaphysics: What happens to the soul after death? How does it manage?" Nearly as funny, but unintentionally so, was the query on a questionnaire sent all over the British Empire by the Victorian anthropologist James Frazer, who was making an inquiry into "the Customs, Beliefs, and Languages of Savages". The question was, "Does [the soul] resemble a shadow, a reflection, a breath, or what?" Presumably the savages all had different ideas, but that doesn't mean that academics and divines all had a uniform and agreed-upon concept of what a soul is (or how it manages). How soul or spirit has been visualized or otherwise manifest in modern history is the theme of _Phantasmagoria: Spirit Visions, Metaphors, and Media into the Twenty-first Century_ (Oxford University Press) by Marina Warner. As a professor of literature, Warner has written an academic work, large and weighty and ballasted with plenty of footnotes. It is wide-ranging and often scattershot, taking in vampires, zombies, magic lanterns, Rorschach inkblots, Peter Pan, psychic photography, time travel, automata, ether, purgatory, transubstantiation, and much more. Warner is astonishingly well-read and knowledgeable, and consistently if the erudition gets too thick for the reader in one chapter, there will be agreeable surprises in the next.

Souls are important things, even if many of us don't have the same beliefs in God or gods that we used to. Warner writes, "Even when we profess agnosticism if not unbelief in a supernatural order, we are the inheritors of much classical cosmology and medieval philosophy about spirit and soul - in unconscious ways and in common parlance." If the soul cannot be completely described, that doesn't bother the author; she has given a broad examination of western attempts to do so. The book takes a more-or-less chronological tour of soul-stuffs, starting, surprisingly enough, with wax, and the lack of souls in waxworks. Souls have also long been connected with breath or with air. Aristotle believed that the "spirit which is contained in the foamy body of the semen" was conveyed by the father. The air in the sky was sometimes thought to be full of souls, and everyone in a cold climate could see that exhaled breath was a little cloud. From souls as material objects we pass into souls as manifestations of light or shadow. We have delighted for a couple of centuries in devices that project forms of light and shadow for us. The original phantasmagoria meant "an assembly of phantoms" and was applied to magic lantern shows, such as those of the notorious Etienne Gaspard Robertson, who found that projecting pictures in a darkened crypt got the best effect if the pictures were scary, like a Medusa's head or the ghost of Banquo. He thus set us up "... for the coming of the horror video, its ghouls, ghosts, and vampire-infested suburbs." Snapping pix of souls was all in a day's work for the spiritualists, with the new art of photography growing along with the new "science" of the séance. The scientists and objective observers never did find a good explanation of how immaterial souls or spirits interact with the material world to let us hear, see, or photograph them.

Warner writes, "The brain balks at non-meaning; meaninglessness, like formlessness, becomes the dominant scandal against reason, and reason, seeking to abolish it, generates fantasies ..." Her book is full of strange wonders, like divine portents in the sky such as "rains of frogs or of fish (and sometimes saucepans)", or the persistent story of the Angels of Mons supporting the good guys in World War One (acclaimed as a true vision against the protests of the man who had written it as a fictional story). _Phantasmagoria_ is a report on centuries of figments of the imagination, and reflects the understanding that ghosts and demons were present in the olden days of any period in the past, and will be with us in newer forms revealed by newer technologies and story-telling powers.
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