Thursday, February 16, 2012

More About New Book: Stranger Magic: Charmed States and the Arabian Nights by Marina Warner

I posted a few weeks ago about Stranger Magic: Charmed States and the Arabian Nights by Marina Warner, released last year in the UK and now in the US. Although the book has a March 1st release date, it has started shipping from Amazon US. My copy arrived this week but I haven't had time to peruse it yet.

I keep wondering with all of the semi-recent spate of Arabian Nights publications in academia if we will see the media add the tales to their fairy tale frenzy. I myself would enjoy seeing a new version of the frame story. I haven't seen one since Arabian Nights starring Mili Avital, Alan Bates, James Frain and Tchéky Karyo in 2000. That's quite a while! And I have been more interested in the Arabian Nights' influence on folklore in the 19th century, too, with all of my recent research on various tales, but that is for another post or posts in the future.

Warner's book was named a Times Literary Supplement Best Book of 2011 and a Guardian Best Book of 2011.

I already shared the description, so I will share Publishers Weekly starred review this time instead:

“This remarkable study is an arabesque, and an intricate Persian rug of themes, eras, tales, and authors—of the Middle East and West, playing on ‘states of consciousness’ as well as state-cultures. With a basic knowledge of Arabic from childhood as well as a Catholic upbringing, Warner is almost divinely positioned to unravel the infinite strands of the wily Scheherazade, as she weaves her way through the Arabian Nights, exploring their boundless capacity to ‘keep generating more tales, in various media, themselves different but alike: the stories themselves are shape-shifters.’ From Disney’s Aladdin to the works of Freud, Goethe, Hans Christian Andersen, and others, Warner explores the impact of the Arabian Nights on the West and the power of enchantment and fantasy. Like all myth, these of flying carpets, sofas, and beds of genies and heroic connivers grant lasting insights into human aspirations, transcendence, and love. Carefully documented, Warner’s ever shifting work takes its place alongside that of Edward Said, though she is refreshingly less polemical and less theoretical. No one need cover this enchanting ground again.”

Table of Contents:

A Note on the Text
List of Illustrations

Part I. Solomon the Wise King

Story: The Fisherman and the Genie
1. Master of Jinn
Story: The City of Brass
2. Riding the Wind: The Flying Carpet I
Story: Prince Ahmed and Fairy Peri Banou
3. A Tapestry of Great Price: The Flying Carpet II

Part II. Dark Arts; Strange Gods

Story: The Prince of the Black Islands
4. The Worst Witch
5. Egyptian Attitudes
Story: Hasan of Basra
6. Magians and Dervishes
Story: A Fortune Regained
7. Dream Knowledge

Part III. Active Goods

8. ‘Everything You Desire to Know about the East…’
Story: The Greek King and Doctor Douban
9. The Thing-World of the Arabian Nights
Story: Abu Mohammed the Lazy
10. The Word of the Talisman
Story: Marouf the Cobbler
11. The Voice of the Toy
12. Money Talks

Part IV. Oriental Masquerades

13. Magnificent Moustaches: Hamilton’s Fooling, Voltaire’s Impersonations
Story: Rosebud and Uns al-Wujud the Darling Boy
Story: The Jinniya and the Egyptian Prince
14. ‘Symbols of Wonder’: William Beckford’s Arabesque
15. Oriental Masquerade: Goethe’s West-Eastern Divan

Part V. Flights of Reason

Story: Camar al-Zaman and Princess Badoura
16. Thought Experiments: Flight before Flight
17. Why Aladdin?
18. Machine Dreams
Story: The Ebony Horse
19. The Shadows of Lotte Reiniger
Story: Aladdin of the Beautiful Moles
20. The Couch: A Case History
Story: Prince Ardashir and Hayat al-Nufus
Conclusion: ‘All the story of the night told over…’
The Stories

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