Fantastic Metamorphoses, Other Worlds: Ways of Telling the Self / Edition 1

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Metamorphosis is a dynamic principle of creation, vital to natural processes of generation and evolution, growth and decay, yet it also threatens personal identity if human beings are subject to a continual process of bodily transformation. Shape-shifting also belongs in the landscape of magic, witchcraft, and wonder, and enlivens classical mythology, early modern fairy tales and uncanny fictions of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In Fantastic Metamorphoses, Other Worlds, acclaimed novelist and critic Marina Warner explores the metaphorical power of metamorphoses in the evocation of human personality. Beginning with Ovid's great poem, The Metamorphoses, as the founding text of the metamorphic tradition, she takes us on a journey of exploration, into the fantastic art of Hieronymous Bosch, the legends of the Taino people, the life cycle of the butterfly, the myth of Leda and the Swan, the genealogy of the Zombie, the pantomime of Aladdin, the haunting of doppelgangers, the coming of photography, and the late fiction of Lewis Carroll. Beautifully illustrated and elegantly written, Fantastic Metamorphoses, Other Worlds is sure to appeal to all readers interested in mythology, art, and literature.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[A] piercing, playful use of ideas.... Warner moves with a high-wire walker's assurance, from Ovid, Bosch and Dante to James Hogg's 'Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner,' Stevenson's 'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' and on to Nabokov's 'Lolita' and even Philip Pullman's 'His Dark Materials.' In addition, she makes several seductive moves toward that enormous threat to intellectual history, the movies.... Especially when looking at Bosch, Warner sees something like fluency in the rampant, exhilarating way forms can find new shapes. This is Warner at her playful best."—The New York Times Book Review

"In this typically agile meditation, [Warner] rewardingly charts shifting images of the imagination itself.... What makes Fantastic Metamorphoses remarkable is its dashing investigation of imagination."—The Observer

"Fantastic Metamorphoses, Other Worlds makes a compelling case for the exploration of creation, evolution, growth, and decay. Warner not only accomplishes her goal of showing how other worlds are created in art but she indeed opens the door to those other worlds by taking readers on a journey where ghosts, mythological beings, zombies, and fairies become their faithful partners."—Dolores Flores-Silvia, Roanoke College

"Rules of thumb: (1) genuinely scholarly books are no delight to read, and (2) "antiquarian" studies do not illuminate the life and culture of (post)modern readers. Exception: Fantastic Metamorphoses, Other Worlds.... This irresistibly styled and splendidly illustrated treatment of generation, evolution, growth, and decay touches most of the mythological—and many of the literary-artistic—bases, but goes beyond them to encompass photography, cultural anthropology, folklore, and lepidoptery."—Virginia Quarterly Review

"Warner offers a perceptive analysis of the genre of fantastic art.... Makes a compelling case for the importance of exploration of creation, evolution, growth, and decay."—Sixteenth Century Journal

"The four essays in this book offer profound and probing searches into metamorphoses as the 'principle of organic vitality as well as the pulse in the body of art'.... A rewarding venture through a revised Western history of ideas. Highly recommended."—Choice

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199266845
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 3/28/2004
  • Series: Clarendon Lectures in English Literature Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 284
  • Product dimensions: 8.40 (w) x 5.40 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Marina Warner is a prize-winning writer of fiction, criticism, and history; her works include novels and short stories as well as studies of female myths and symbols.

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Table of Contents

1. Mutating
2. Hatching
3. Splitting
4. Doubling
Picture Sources

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