«Of What is Past, or Passing, or to Come»

Travelling in Time and Space in Literature in English

by Liliana Sikorska (Volume editor)
©2014 Edited Collection 218 Pages


This volume, entitled Of what is past, or passing, or to come: Travelling in Time and Space in Literature in English was inspired by the work of the writer, culture historian and mythographer Marina Warner and the professor of comparative literature Cathy Caruth. The lines quoted above are from W.B. Yeats’ Sailing to Byzantium, which are recalled by one of the characters in Marina Warner’s novel In a Dark Wood (1977). The articles included in this volume are devoted to the explorations of individual space and landscape of the mind through analyzing trauma and addressing psychological wounds, and to travels into fairy tales, oriental scenery real and imaginary as well as interrelationships between memory and fiction in non-fictional and fictional discourses.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the Author
  • About the Book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Editorial
  • The heirlooms and burdens of Marina Warner: Liliana Sikorska, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań / University of Social Sciences, Warsaw
  • References
  • They make a desert (and call it peace): Marina Warner, University of Essex
  • The voyage inside oneself: Cathy Caruth’s investigation of trauma: Liliana Sikorska, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań / University of Social Sciences, Warsaw
  • References
  • Disappearing history: Scenes of trauma in the theater of human rights: Cathy Caruth, Cornell University, Ithaca
  • I.
  • II.
  • III.
  • IV.
  • V.
  • VI.
  • VII.
  • VIII.
  • References
  • “Enter freely and of your own will”: Invitations, travel and trauma in Bram Stoker’s Dracula: Simon Bacon, Independent Researcher, Poznań
  • Abstract
  • References
  • Self-fashioning as an identity-shaping process in Marina Warner’s Indigo and William Shakespeare’s The tempest: Katarzyna Burzyńska, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań
  • Abstract
  • References
  • “I’ll drown my book”: Travels between the lines of Shakespeare’s The tempest and Dickens’s A Christmas carol: Daragh Downes, Trinity College, Dublin
  • Abstract
  • I. Introduction
  • II. Prospero’s transports
  • III. Scrooge’s visions
  • IV. Death and the change of heart
  • References
  • “The token of some great grief, which had been conquered, but not banished”: Trauma, things, and domestic interiors in Collins, Dickens, and Raabe: Sabina Fazli, The University of Göttingen
  • Abstract
  • References
  • The narrative of loss in Joan Didion’s Blue nights: Katarzyna Kuczma, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań
  • Abstract
  • References
  • Writing the nation: Discourses of power in Richard Hakluyt’s Principal navigations: Jessica Quick, Saint Louis University, Madrid
  • Abstract
  • References
  • The Unknown Mother: Thanatourism and metempsychotic remembrance after World War I: Tony Seaton, MacAnally Professor of Travel History and Behaviour, Centre for Tourism Policy Studies, University of Limerick, Ireland
  • Abstract
  • I. The metempsychotic text
  • II. The metempsychotic journey of the Unknown Mother
  • III. Wensley: The Non-Pareil (Figures 1 and 2)
  • IV. The journey
  • V. The SPI I: Rural Spaces (Figures 3 and 4)
  • VI. SPI II: Pointers and Directions (Figures 5 to 8)
  • VII. SPI III: The Imperial War Graves Commission (Figures 9 and 10)
  • VIII. SPI IV: Significant Others (Figures 11 to 14)
  • IX. SPI V: Remembered sights and people (Figures 15 to 18)
  • X. SPI VI: Journey’s end (Figures 19 to 22)
  • XI. Conclusion
  • XII. The Unknown Mother
  • References
  • Untold stories: Reclaiming the past through (auto-biographical) narratives Liliana Sikorska, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań/University of Social Sciences, Warsaw
  • Abstract
  • References
  • Memory and forgetfulness in the recent Booker novels: Marta Wiszniowska-Majchrzyk, Kardynal Stefan Wyszyński University, Warsaw
  • Abstract
  • I. Naturally, a manuscript
  • II. Naturally, manuscripts
  • III. Memory before manuscripts as unreliable evidence and thwarted expectations
  • IV. Naturally, memories
  • V. Instead of a conclusion
  • Refereences
  • Actors in The water theatre: In interview with Lindsay Clarke: Liliana Sikorska, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań/ University of Social Sciences, Warsaw
  • Studies in Literature in English


Studies in Literature in English (SILIE) is a series published by Peter Lang Verlag which focuses on literature in English. “Literature in English” is a relatively new term coined recently to include both English literature in the traditional sense of the word and all the newly emerging literatures written and published in English whose authors may represent various ethnic and cultural backgrounds. New books and journals devoted specifically to this area and other related areas of research have begun to appear and regular annual or bi-annual conferences have also been organized. This series, as well as our yearly Literature in English Symposium (LIES) respond to this growing interest, the latter is organized by the Department of English Literature and Literary Linguistics, at the School of English, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland. Each year the symposium hosts an eminent contemporary writer and an eminent contemporary scholar; the topic of the conference is based on the presenter’s literary interests. In previous years our guest speakers have been Leland Bardwell, Lindsay Clarke, Anthony Cronin, Paul Durcan, Anne Haverty, Kevin Lavin, Andrew Miller, Adam Thorpe, David Dabydeen and Pauline Melville while our plenary speakers included Professor Leszek Drong, Professor Jerzy Jarniewicz, Professor Wiesław Krajka, Professor Marta Wiszniowska and Professor Jerzy Limon among others.

This year’s Studies in Literature in English contains selected papers delivered at LIES 2012, as well as papers written by scholars interested in the topic. Like the previous volumes, its title carries a quotation from a literary text, this one reads: ‘“Of what is past, or passing, Or to come”: Travelling in time and space in literature in English’. The lines quoted above are from W. B. Yeats’ ‘Sailing to Byzantium,’1 which are recalled by one of the characters in Marina Warner’s novel In a dark wood (1977) and highlight the theme of the 2012 symposium. The 8th Literature in English Symposium (LIES 8) held at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań (Poland) was devoted to the explorations of individual space and landscape of the mind through analyzing trauma and addressing psychological wounds; travels into fairy tales, oriental scenery (real and imaginary) as well as interrelationships between memory and fiction in non-fictional and fictional discourses. Our guest writer of LIES 2012 was Professor Marina Warner, a fiction writer, a professor of literature, theater and film. With her we travelled into the land of fairy tales, myth, and spiritual visions and met exemplary women such as the Virgin Mary and Joan of Arc or visionaries such as Maria Pia, a character from In a dark wood. For the first time, however, we ← 9 | 10 → publish not a scholarly paper but a radio play entitled “They make a desert (and call it peace)” which began as a short story written for the series From Fact to Fiction BBC Radio 4 (2010). The theme of the story related to conflict trauma and remembering ties quite nicely with the paper by our plenary speaker, Professor Cathy Caruth (Cornell University). With Professor Caruth we took a “voyage out” into trauma (and healing) narratives. Studies in Literature in English 5 maintains the usual organization and offers a short introduction to the work of the writer Marina Warner at the beginning and an interview with one of our friends, a writer, Lindsay Clarke concerning his recently published novel The water theater (2010) at the end of the volume. I hope that the present volume will provide a passage into notable literary works, even though, the idea of a journey is inherently connected with changing places and movement, but, through reading, we can traverse space and time, continents and cultures, whilst remaining static.

In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to express my profound gratefulness to Professor Katarzyna Dziubalska-Kołaczyk, Dean of the Faculty of English, Adam Mickiewicz University, who has always been supportive towards all my “literary extravaganza”. I would also like to thank Dr. Zdzisław Szymański, Dean of the Warsaw Faculty of University of Social Sciences for his moral but also financial support. My words of thanks are also to Dr. Katarzyna Bronk and Ms Marta Frątczak, whose efforts in correcting all the little details of the manuscript are highly appreciated. Last but not least, I would like to thank my husband and friend, Professor Jacek Fisiak, who has always been there for me when I need him most. The dedicatee of this volume knows how much I owe him and how much I appreciate his sound advice and assistance.

Liliana Sikorska

Poznań, February 9, 2013 ← 10 | 11 →

1 W. B. Yeats. 2001. “Sailing to Byzantium”, in: The major works (Edited with an Introduction and Notes by Edward Larrissy.) Oxford: Oxford University Press, 94-95.

The heirlooms and burdens1of Marina Warner

Liliana Sikorska, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań / University of Social Sciences, Warsaw

My story about Marina Warner (b.1946) began with the third edition of my Short history of English literature (2007) in which I was trying to include as many contemporary authors as possible. Not knowing her work, I wrote only a short note: “Marina Warner is a novelist and a critic. Among her most famous critical publications are The myth and cult of the Virgin Mary (1976), Monuments and maidens (1985). Her interest in fairy tales resulted in the collection of rewritten myth and fairy tales entitled Mermaids in the basement (1993). Her other works include The lost father (1988) and Indigo (1992)” (2007: 711). Since I, in my utter ignorance, did not know how important a writer and cultural historian she was, this very short and imprecise note migrated to the fourth edition of the History. I was, however, offered a chance to make amends in 2010. During a pre-conference lunch of that year our eminent guest David Dabydeen, himself a professor of literature, suggested that our next guest should be Marina Warner. I was overjoyed, even though I did not fully understand what he meant when he said “You should invite Marina Warner, she is very intellectual”. I understood his implication after researching the scholarly and literary output of Marina Warner. When the merry group of our departmental PhD students and myself started studying Warner’s work, we jointly declared that to write all this, teach creative writing and live, one should probably have to give up on sleeping altogether. Her productivity shows her superhuman power. What follows is a sketch of the figure of the novelist, mythographer, professor of literature and creative writing, with interest in medieval women, art history and cultural studies, a lover of films and fairy tales.

So let me, then, begin in a fairy tale mode. Once upon a time in a Kingdom Far Far Away, a young assistant was struggling in an unfamiliar territory of medieval studies, trying to write her post-doctoral dissertation. Writing, as we all know, is a solitary experience, and so not to become an utter recluse, she attended a seminar more or less connected with the topic of her dissertation, using the opportunity of a number of eminent specialists in the field that the “Faraway Kingdom” had on offer, including a world class Chaucerian, V.A. Kolve, who ← 11 | 12 → offered a seminar on five medieval women writers. And it was during that seminar, when we studied Christine de Pizan’s The book of the city of ladies, that I first encountered the name of Marina Warner. It was her introduction to Christine’s text (published in 1982) that inspired the years of my later research. Her knowledge and the ways in which she saw the connections between the old and the new, the past and contemporary culture, have influenced the work of many younger scholars of our university.

One such connection is made through one of the most recognized works by Warner, namely Indigo, or mapping the waters (1992), which is frequently analyzed in reference to Shakespeare’s The tempest. Sanders (2006) talks about the engagement with “the myth of Shakespeare” (2006: 51-52). Sanders praises Warner’s use of fairly tales, most notably Mmed’Aulnoy’s Les contes des fées, [1697-1698] (2006: 91). Incidentally, the fairy tales of Marie-Catherine d’Aulnoy, Henriette-Julie de Murat, Charles Perrault and Francois-Timoléon de Choisy as well as Marie-Jeanne L’Héritier de Villandon were collected and edited by Warner in a volume entitled Wonder tales. Six stories of enchantment (1994). The fairy tale culturally conditioned discourse pervades Indigo in many different ways. Out of the creation of two sisters who are inevitably polarized as good and bad, sibling rivalry is brought out without reversing the obvious connotations of darkness and evil, fairness and goodness. Warner depicts the younger sister, Xanthe, the ‘gilded one’, as self-centered and avaricious, Miranda (yet another inscription from Shakespeare) is the dark one, good and selfless. “Through her [Warner’s] intertextual weaving of the mermaids and sea-changes of Shakespeare’s The tempest with those of fairy tales, Warner constructs a distinctly feminocentric narrative” (Sanders 2006: 92). The novel’s magical site is a Caribbean island which is both painfully real (as it is invaded and subdued by the white man, the predecessor of the sister’s father) and utterly magical under the spell of the Renaissance character of a Shakespearian witch, Sycorax, who in Warner’s novel gains a voice, denied her by Shakespeare. The contemporary character Serafine Killibree, the sisters’ nurse and weaver of stories, adds to the spell. She connects the Renaissance and contemporary motifs through her tale of a king and his beautiful daughter.

Warner’s first novel In a dark wood (1977) is frequently linked to her work on the biography of The Dragon Empress: The life and limes of Tz’u-hsi, 1835-1908, Empress Dowager of China (1972). The biography is a historical work, depicting China at the time of great changes. The novel likewise portrays China in the seventeenth century during the time of the first attempts of the Jesuits to Christianize it. While the biography of Tzu’hsi dramatized the conflict between past and present, tradition and modernity, the novel debates the im/possibility of reconciling Christianity with Chinese culture. The present in the novel is also ← 12 | 13 → ridden by other types of clashes. Gabriel Namier, a Jesuit priest, is editing the diaries and writing a biography of a Jesuit priest Andrew da Rocha. Namier is himself going through a crisis of faith. His brother Jerome Namier, the editor of a journal “The Albion Review”, discovers that his journal was funded by the CIA, which means that the high critical standards and independence of the opinion were drastically compromised. Finding it difficult to deal not only with his loss of faith but also his homosexuality, Gabriel is sent on a mission to Italy to investigate the revelation of the Virgin Mary experienced by a young girl. Having found out that Maria Pia is an illegitimate child of the local priest, Gabriel refuses to acknowledge the validity of her visions. At the same time he realizes that there might be something he cannot comprehend on a spiritual rather than intellectual level. On a larger scale, the war in Vietnam is in the background of the story. The husband of his elder daughter, Francesca, is a journalist who leaves for Vietnam to be a war correspondent, while Teresa, Jerome’s wife, an actress, is bragging about her main role in the new version of South Pacific. Gabriel is distracted and distraught by the fact that a personal letter written to the young musicologist he fancies was left lying about in his office. That makes him wander into the park where he is accosted by two youths who rob him and leave him lying on the ground. Unable to reach for his inhaler, Gabriel dies. His accidental and unnecessary death in a park carries mythical significance. According to Coupe1, it is connected with Frazer’s reading of the fertility myth, according to which when the god lacks vitality (and both brothers feel they have failed in life), the land dries and so the god must die to renew the land (2006: 21). The dark wood of the title is both Frazerian and mythical, evoking the sacred grove2 and the fairy tales’ magical but also dangerous and, as we could see, deadly forest. In the novel the renewal comes with the promise of Jerome and his younger daughter Paula to finish Gabriel’s work on the Andrew da Rocha diaries.

As In a dark wood, The skating party (1982) also has myth and anthropology in its background. Here the main image is that of skaters who by custom skate on a river from town to a village, and there they are all invited to a party. The image of skaters almost immediately calls to mind Virginia Woolf’s the image of Orlando and the skaters, right before his transformation into a woman. Warner’s skaters become multidimensional semiotic signs, encapsulated in an image, which strikingly reminiscent of Pieter Breugel’s “Landscape with Skat ← 13 | 14 → ers” (1656). Warner uses the novel to show various ways in which we respond both to our immediate reality as well as art. The novel’s main characters are Michael Lovage, a professor of anthropology, and Viola, his wife, an art historian and their son, Timothy (Timmo), an undergraduate as well a lover of Michael, Katy and a couple of figures from the university, including an older professor who dislikes the idea of women in academia. They are skating on the frozen morning of Epiphany, and their skating followed by the party is an occasion to reassess their views on life. Through Michael’s research interests, the main intertext here is again Frazer’s The Golden Bough, but through Viola’s work, it is Gerard David’s diptych entitled “The Judgment of Cambyses” and the Frescoes of Cardinal Birbarotti. Viola’s first reading of the above mentioned art pieces, is initially incorrect and only after some time, she uncovers the right meaning. The process of reading, then, demonstrates the deliberate and painful ways in which individual characters reach the truth about themselves and about others. It is through Viola’s eyes that the reader is being given the insight into their past connected with Michael’s work at Palau, and their witnessing the “scapegoating”3 of a young girl who was tried as a witch and sentenced to slow death by starvation. And even though Viola tries to feed her, the girl refuses to eat. While Michael remains a passive observer, the one who records and does not interfere, and also does not feel guilty, Viola takes the blame for their passivity and feels personally responsible for the girl’s death. In their later life, the strange looking Katy with whom Michael is infatuated is the person who metaphorically bewitches him, and that is why he is so shocked to find her and his son in bed after the party. As Coupe notices, on a Christian feast, a pagan myth of Oedipus is reenacted to show them their own fractured family ties (2006: 41). The ties with one’s past can never be entirely severed.

The past that is always infringing upon the character’s future is also the subject matter of The lost father (1988), which begins with a poem by Czesław Miłosz “My faithful mother tongue”. Set in a fictional Ninfania, which is strikingly reminiscent of southern Italy, and documents the turbulent 1920’s of Benito Mussolini’s ascent to power. In this novel Warner narrates a family’s (hi)story marked by a fatal duel. The story is written in 1985 from the perspective of Anna, the daughter of Fantina who was the youngest of three sisters; Anna is one of many voices in the story, bringing out many, sometimes conflicting, answers to the puzzle of the accident in which a law student, Davide Pittagora, in order to defend the honor of his sister Rosalba, known as Rosa, duels with his friend, Tomasso Talvi. A bullet remains in Davide’s brain, the physical reminder of the duel. In the turbulent times of the pre-war Italian fascism, ← 14 | 15 → Davide decides to emigrate with his wife and sisters to America, but unlike his sisters, who take up sewing and are happy to be working outside the house, Davide is not successful, and so after ten years, in 1923 the family returns to Italy. In 1925 Mussolini becomes the dictator, the “father of the nation”, the first one to be so named and the first one to be “lost” to his own unreal dream. Davide is also the lost father, lost in the past of feudal Italy, the patriarchal south clinging to the fascist propagated machismo, which is, nevertheless, forever changing with the looming economic crisis and the war. The author of the family history, a recent divorcee named Anna, longs to know the real truth behind the story of the duel, and the possibility that the whole thing might be simply a family myth. After all, “old stories change”, as Fantina tells her daughter. The novel then is a meditation on storytelling and history epitomized in the event of Mussolini’s attempt at changing history by wiping out the record of the original construction of the aqueduct and offering a lie as a substitute (Coupe 2006: 60).

The Leto bundle (2006)4 is also a work about the Protean nature of history and storytelling. It is the most recent and most ambitious novel by Warner, showing her as a masterful mythographer and (cultural) historian, utilizing many strands of research done by Warner so far. A story of migration and exile, the novel skims through time and space - from Antiquity, through Victorian times, to post-modernity. It travels from mythical Lycania, Byzantium, to London. It begins with the mythical Leto, exiled by Hera who bears Zeus’s twins, Apollo and Artemis. Leto is then incarnated as Laetitia in a town-stronghold in which Orphiri (Muslim), Lazuli (Byzantine) and Enochite (English Christians) live in relative peace. The vice-procurator of the fortress is Cunmar, an Ophiri who falls in love and would have married Laetitia were it not for Cunmar’s wife and son, who want to have her killed. The description of the outpost with its unspecified danger from “the barbarians” reverberates with echoes of John Maxwell Coetzee’s Waiting for the barbarians (1980). Marina Warner discloses that her inspiration was the poem by a Greek poet, Constantine Cavafy (1864-1933) under the same title as Coetzee novel. Warner Laetitia is exiled in a hostile territory outside the fortress. Leto and her twins are then found as stowaways on a ship, whose captain is in possession of an archeological treasure known as the Leto Bundle. When Leto and the twins, known now as Pheobe and Phoebus, leave the ship, they find themselves on a road to Tirzah, which is reminiscent of Sarajevo, the city subjected to one of the most tragic occupations and war in 1991-1995. Warner, however, sets the action of that part of the novel in 1970-75. Tirzah presents the most traumatic scene. There Phoebe is almost flayed ← 15 | 16 → alive during the explosion of a bomb. Leto, forced to give up Phoebus for adoption, is barely able to survive with her daughter, working at a hospital and supplementing her income as a prostitute. The latter activity lends to her asylum in Albion (England) where she becomes Ella and in an enigmatic encounter, possibly finds her son again in the figure of Kim, who has been obsessed with “the Leto bundle”, a mummy which is being studied by the curator at the Museum of Albion, Hortense Fernly. Kim McQuay, a schoolteacher, and Gramercy Poole, a pop singer, want to create a film about Leto to commemorate her life of permanent exile. For a brief moment, Leto and the twins are reunited only to be lost to each other again. Kim is accidentally killed at the school playground and Ella/Leto disappears once more. The novel is a powerful plea for exiles all over the world who are forever forced to re-invent themselves in their new countries of residence. “What is our national identity?” – writes in the novel an official from the government’s Department of Cultural Identities - “What are our national identities? How do we define today, in a world beset be strife, international and civil, an idea of home and belonging? How do we enable this country to maintain the civic pact of openness, tolerance and citizenship (…)? Multiculturalism is enmeshed in difficulties and contradictions and indeed the very word is seriously contested” (2001: 84).

Moving to Warner’s other works, on a less serious note, she also wrote four books for children. The impossible day (1981), The impossible bath (1982), The impossible rocket (1982), The wobbly tooth (1984), as she herself admitted, were written for her son. The impossible rocket became prophetic because her son grew up to become not a constructor of rockets but a sculptor. Her two collections of stories, The mermaids in the basement (1993) and Murderers I have known (2002), revive myth by giving it new meanings in the contemporary world. In the former collection Noah’s daughter in law retells the story of the flood (“Full fathom five”) and Moses becomes a Vietnamese baby rescued by the wife of an English war correspondent (“Salvage”). Warner retains her interests in female saints and various literary and theological renditions of sainthood. In the story “The food of angels”, set in the nineteenth century, she narrates the story of an anorexic girl deemed a saint because of her illness. Murderers I have known (2002) also renders myth as it is present in everyday life, myth as a narrative overriding our perception of reality. Thus, in the title story of the collection a young woman suffers from an overactive imagination. One night when she hears strange noises in the house - which in the end turn out to be a bat - she thinks she is about to be killed by a murderer. She is almost mythically petrified by fear of being killed, which in fact is an expression of her anxiety about her own life. In “Natural limits” a widow looks back at her constraining and suffocating marriage. Following her trip to Cologne and visit to Cathedral and the ← 16 | 17 → mosaic of bones of St. Ursula and her virgins murdered by the Huns, she returns home and sprinkles her husband’s ashes over a salad and eats it, thereby finally discovering the taste of their life together. The “Lullaby for an insomniac princess” calls to mind the fairy tale of “The Princess and the pea”, Ovid’s story from the Metamorphoses concerning the rape and mutilation of Philomel, as well as Keats’ “Ode to a nightingale”, while the Princess herself whose name is Imogen, recalls one of Shakespeare’s characters from Cymbeline.

Similar to her fiction, Warner’s critical works are also multilayered and complex in their interpretation of the past and contemporary culture. Her monumental Alone of all her sex. The myth and the cult of the Virgin Mary (1976) commenced her work and interest in female characters and their representations in literature and culture. This was continued with her work on Joan of Arc: Joan of Arc. The image of female heroism (1983) and The trial of Joan of Arc (1996). The former is a historical biography of Joan and the latter (ab)use of her in culture, while the latter contains edited transcripts of Joan’s trial. Warner’s Monuments and maidens. The allegory of the female form (1985) and From the beast to the blonde (1994) show the presence of the figures of women both mythologized such as Athena and Lady Wisdom, as well as allegorized such as Pandora. Warner also looks at famous monuments such as the Statue of Liberty and various illustrious women figures found in abundance in European cities. From the beast to the blonde (1994), divided into two parts is about tellers and tales. It is a comprehensive analysis of the origins, authors and versions of fairy tales, as well as their cultural significance. Her interest in the mythical potential of fairy tales is also realized in Managing monsters. Six myths of our time (1994).5 The theme of monstrosity and the supernatural is the subject matter of No go the bogeyman. Scaring, lulling and making mock (1998)6 and Phantasmagoria. Spirit visions, metaphors, and media into the twenty-first century (2006). While the former work shows the grotesque as combining the fearful and the comic and links the idea of fear with particular cultural responses to it, the latter depicts the ongoing fascination with the otherworldly as manifested in death masks, spiritism and mirror images. Warner deals with myth in her Fantastic metamorphoses, other worlds. Ways of telling the self (2002), She also authored a libretto for an opera by John Woolrich entitled In the house of crossed desires (1996), which was inspired by Apuleius’s The golden ass, in itself a story of fantastic metamorphosis. Her continued interest in art history is ← 17 | 18 → also seen in Queen Victoria’s sketchbook (1979) which tells the story of Victoria’s life until the death of Prince Albert, as recorded in the sketches and paintings of Victoria. Warner has written several catalogue essays for contemporary artists, for example, Richard Wentwortht (1991), Louise Bourgeois (2000) and Tacita Dean (Footage, 2012) as well as an essay on Henry Fuselli entitled “Invented plots: The enchanted puppets and fairy doubles of Henry Fuselli” (2006); she has curated exhibitions, The inner eye. Art beyond the visible (1996). Her interest in film is manifested in all her critical works. It found expression in her analysis of L’Atalante (1993), the film by Jean Vigo from 1934. Warner’s interest in art and its connection with literature and history is also manifested in The crack in the teacup. Britain in the 20th century (1979)7. In 1989 she published Into the dangerous world, a political ‘counterblast’ about the conditions of children, and in 2003 Signs and wonders, a collections of essays on literary and cultural issues. Her most recent critical work is Stranger magic. Charmed states and the Arabian Nights (2011), a magnificent work charting Orientalism through mythology and literature and reaffirming its stance in contemporary culture. That this work should betray her interest in the Orient is not accidental. Her father owned a bookshop in Cairo in the 1950’s. And is so happens that her new project: Inventory of a life mislaid, is truly connected with heirlooms and burdens, and as always will show the presence of the past in individual and collective lives of today.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2014 (June)
Autobiographie Träume Reiseerzählungen Mythen Warner, Marina Caruth, Cathy Vergessen Psychoanalyse
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2014. 218 pp., 24 b/w fig.

Biographical notes

Liliana Sikorska (Volume editor)

Liliana Sikorska, professor of English, head of the Department of English Literature and Literary Linguistics at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań (Poland); head of the Department of English Literature and Culture of English Speaking Countries at the University of Social Sciences in Warsaw (Poland); 2010 Fulbright Professor at the Cornell University in New York (USA); author and co-author of numerous books on medieval English and Irish literature as well as postcolonial literatures in English.


Title: «Of What is Past, or Passing, or to Come»
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