Stranger Magic: Charmed States & the Arabian Nights Paperback – 1 Nov 2012
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"Wonderful... This is a flying carpet of a book" (Jeanette Winterson)
"Wide-ranging, erudite, wondrously polymathic exploration of the tales of magic...Warner, too is a beguiling storyteller: her fascination with true knowledge embedded in realms of wonder" (Iain Finlayson The Times)
"Her mind is as rich and fascinating as the stories themselves, taking us on a magic carpet from Borges and Goethe, to Edward Said and the movies" (Hanif Kureishi Guardian, Books of the Year)
"An epic study of the Arabian Nights...a dissection of the myths in these enduring classics that promises to throw light on the countries from which the stories spring and the lives of women in them" (Mariella Frostrup Observer, Books of the Year)
"This beautifully illustrated book, part retelling, part analysis, is a wonderful companion to some of the most marvellous stories ever told" (Michael Kerrigan The Scotsman)
A dazzling history of magical thinking, exploring the power of the Arabian Nights and its impact in the West, and retelling some of its wondrous tales. Lavishly illustrated throughout.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
In Stranger Magic: Charmed States and the Arabian Nights, Marina Warner examines the presence of enchantment and magic in everyday culture, and the reasons for its continued persistence despite its difficult co-existence with science. To do so, she studies how the perception of magic and imagination has evolved over history in the context of the Arabian Nights, and worries magic has been made more comfortable for Western audiences through the exoticisation of Oriental material.
She begins each chapter with a chosen story from the Arabian Nights, and analyzes it in detail before moving on to its larger implications. For me, this was actually the highlight of the book: I haven’t read the Arabian Nights in years, and having someone explain the context of the stories was fascinating. She covers Shahrazad’s gradual move from stories of men wronged by women to stories portraying women as victims, eventually earning the Sultan’s forgiveness for all women and his agreement to stop executing one per day.
The book, however, is almost impossible to take good notes on: she moves directly from Mongolian Shamanism to Obama’s Dreams from my Father, all in the context of understanding dreams. Such tangled webs make for interesting reading, though some chapters seem to lack relevance. That said, her thesis on the importance of imagination is one I am sympathetic to, and the framing of the issue in Arabian Nights is excellent. All of us might be better off if we were a little more willing, even in this rational world, to indulge in magic, both strange and everyday.
But, for all this, the book is fully accessible, and wonderful bedtime reading!!!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Suitable for fans of these ancient stories - giving deeper insights - real food for thought - a wonderful piece of workPublished on 25 July 2013 by Sarah
The subject matter is of great interest but the prose style is so thick and mannered that reading it is a chore. Read morePublished on 10 Feb. 2013 by Elric Hooper
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