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4.1 out of 5 stars
Stranger Magic: Charmed States & the Arabian Nights
Format: Paperback|Change
Price:£21.88+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on 4 February 2015
Review courtesy of www.subtleillumination.com

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.
3 people found this helpful
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on 25 July 2013
Suitable for fans of these ancient stories - giving deeper insights - real food for thought - a wonderful piece of work
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on 9 January 2013
Stranger Magic offers an unparalleled open door into what lies beneath and beyond the stories of 1001 Nights. Marina Warner peppers her commentary on the tales with her usual startling erudition where other less persistent writers would rely merely on anecdote. An essential read for anyone seriously interested, even "just interested" in the history of fiction.

But, for all this, the book is fully accessible, and wonderful bedtime reading!!!
5 people found this helpful
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on 10 February 2013
The subject matter is of great interest but the prose style is so thick and mannered that reading it is a chore. The book could have a third of cut out and the sentence structure could be simpler. Elric Hooper.
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on 25 December 2012
Marina Warner enchants the reader with beautiful, passionate writing and interesting facts for all The Arabian Nights fanatics. Inside you will also find beautiful illustrations who puts the reader into that magical and secretive world of The Arabian Nights. This is not just a guide to understand the stories better but also a door into a world few westerners dare to enter.
3 people found this helpful
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on 27 August 2014
an extraordinary and magical book - i am lost in wonder every time i sit down and dip in
One person found this helpful
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on 28 January 2013
I was very disappointed and irritated by this book - both by the author and the publisher. It is full of interesting ideas about the nature of magic, the east/west use of fantasy. the influence of the Arabian Nights on a range of authors from Proust to Pullman - but the whole thing is so swamped in erudition that really it becomes far to hefty a tome (literally and metaphorically) for the average reader. And why such very small print? I would have liked three slender volumes and learning worn lightly. If this were a magic carpet one would sink.
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