05 March 2013

"Impeccable scholarship" praised as Professor Marina Warner wins National Book Critics Circle award

Cover of Stranger Magic

Stranger Magic: Charmed States and the Arabian Nights

Professor Marina Warner from the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies has won the criticism category of the prestigious National Book Critics Circle award for her book Stranger Magic: Charmed States and the Arabian Nights.

Judges said Professor Warner's exploration of The Arabian Nights and their cultural legacy "exhibited impeccable scholarship as it gave extraordinary background to Shahrazad’s beloved tales, creating its own magic."

NBCC president Eric Banks wrote in an article on Professor Warner's book: "With Stranger Magic, Warner has written a nimble but daring work of criticism that draws on her work as a novelist and scholar, combining aspects of literary history, formal analysis, personal essay, and cultural forensics."

Professor Warner, who teaches at undergraduate and postgraduate level at Essex,  is a prolific writer of fiction as well as literary criticism and cultural history. Her studies of fiction, fantasy, fairy tale, narrative, and visual art include Phantasmagoria (2008), Six Myths of Our Time (1996) and Into the Dangerous World (1988); among her novels is The Leto Bundle (2002). Stranger Magic examines the stories commonly called (in English) the Arabian Nights, from their tangle of Near Eastern origins through their tremendous influence in the West, in popular culture, and on such authors as Voltaire, Goethe, and Freud. These wondrous stories, Warner argues, allowed Western readers to imagine mystery - and to enjoy miraculous narrative - as something that could happen, but only elsewhere.

The National Book Critics Circle honours outstanding writing and fosters a conversation about reading, criticism, and literature. It was founded in 1974 to encourage and raise the quality of book criticism in all media and to create a way for critics to communicate with one another about their professional concerns.

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