Fairy tales are about money, marriage, and men. They are the maps and manuals that are passed down from mothers and grandmothers to help them survive.

— Marina Warner

The most powerful Marina Warner quotes that are easy to memorize and remember

The more one knows fairy tales the less fantastical they appear;

they can be vehicles of the grimmest realism, expressing hope against all the odds with gritted teeth.

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Scheherazade, of course, was always in the back of my mind, because she's also a storyteller identified as female who tells a lot of anti-female stories. There's a parade in The Arabian Nights of sorceresses, adulteresses, ghouls, sirens, harridans.

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The price the Virgin demanded was purity, and the way the educators of Catholic children have interpreted this for nearly two thousand years is sexual chastity. Impurity, we were taught, follows from many sins, but all are secondary to the principal impulse of the devil in the soul--lust.

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I consider it as a foreshadowing of modernity in many different respects, and the consistency of character is interesting to the emerging modern psychology. The emphasis on dream knowledge relates quite deeply to psychoanalysis, although I suppose psychoanalysis wouldn't like to say that... Freud was always saying he was a scientist.

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I avoid looking in the mirror.

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There is a theory, that I rather subscribe to.

The frame story implies that if he doesn't change, she will kill him. It's all very complex and subtle. The story is about a woman who persuades a man in power to a different temper and attitude, and so it is about women's wiles, what women will get up to. She has a plan, she has a scheme.

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The vocabulary of pleasure depends on the imagery of pain.

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One of the things I try to do is try to make repetitions, rhymes, and mirrorings across the subject matter of my own books so that the chapter titles and the epigraphs and pictures all kind of form a tapestry. In this book, I retell fifteen of the stories. You have the critical frame, and then you have these rosettes like the motif in a carpet.

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I shop online because I don't like to try things on in front of an alien mirror.

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I am not a great believer in dialectical struggle.

I am much more of a fusion person. I see it as a dialogue, or trialogue, or polylogue: many, many, many voices, going back a long way. The cultural picture is much more mutually enriching at many different levels, manufacturers...absolutely, design and calligraphy. It's an amazing amount of cross-interests between people.

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The French Revolution printed money because they didn't have any, so they just printed it, and this was a revolutionary step which of course we are still reaping the huge consequences of today. It struck me that this was beginning to happen...there had been scandals where shares had been printed.

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The tales are quite hard to remember and I found that going back to it between bouts of writing fiction, I was having to retrace my steps quite a lot, because the stories are very intricate and the material is elusive, and possibly with age, my memory is not as malleable as it used to be.

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About Marina Warner

Quotes 47 sayings
Profession Novelist
Birthday October 16

When virtue is pictured as innocence and innocence equated with childlikeness, the implication is obviously that knowledge and experience are no longer media of goodness, but have become in themselves contaminating. This is a very despairing outlook, in its way as black as Augustine's original sin, for it supposes that original goodness will in all likelihood be defiled...It surrenders the attempt to represent virtue in a mature phase.

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When I was young, I did actually model and was much photographed by famous photographers. But I was always a bookworm.

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Although the stories are very present in my book, and very present in my mind, what I was most interested in was the question of why it had attracted such a following in the 18th Century. It's less mysterious that it attracted a following in the Romantic period, and in the 19th Century, but the early 18th Century when the Rationalists fell in love with it...that was mysterious. What I wanted to look at was the forms of enchantment.

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I do think that this represents a kind of shift towards myth, a recovery of myth, largely through the popularity of writers like Philip Pullman. Somehow myths have returned as a serious subject. It used to be scorned...really scorned. It was part of a nursery tradition, and it was also rather tainted - but not in an immovable way - by the association with right-wing ideologies after the World Wars.

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I always have done work on mythic relations since I started writing.

I really want to be a novelist, or at least a writer of imaginative work... I do try to make my critical studies imaginative and try to write them in ways that are more like literature than philosophy, but I have disappointed myself because I am still so wedded to criticism.

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The stories are most often about justice.

In her stories, those who commit injustice, or act tyrannically, come to no good. They are punished.

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Meanings of all kinds flow through the figures of women, and they often do not include who she herself is.

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Love can make you turn on yourself, and it can do harmful things to you.

It's a deep lesson in human psychology, as with many of the stories. Anyways, that's just an example of one of the most wicked women in the Nights.

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If you want to learn about a culture, you look at what buildings the people lived in but you also want to know about their cosmos.

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I love titles and organizing chains of ideas. I like that very much.

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True to their history, the English are very domineering and have manipulated it in different ways. I wouldn't say that there was an original, but there is a lot of expurgation in some of the Victorian translations, and there's a lot of additional salacious nonsense in some of them, too. I also like the early French one, much-derided for being fanciful but which is actually very elegantly done. It's very big, very capacious.

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I do not think commodities are taken for granted.

One of the convergences in time I noticed, and to me seemed very important, was the emergence of paper money. There had been permissionary notes, exchanging money by writing it, but there was no duplicated form of guaranteeing an exchange.

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Creating simplicity often makes the heart leap;

order has been restored, the crooked made straight. But order is understanding that things cannot be made simple, that complexity reigns and must be accepted.

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A society that doesn't know any longer how to observe every death with proper rituals, that does not know that death is not the end, but only part of the journey, has lost its way, has had the very heart of its humanity torn out.

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The model of the educational Kalila Wa-Dimna.

These are books of instruction to rulers and humans. The stories unfold a range of human psychology, a vast range of human psychology. The Sultan is being moved from his narrow and bigoted position into a wider, more subtle, more nuanced understanding of human experiences.

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The technique of the book and the technique carried by the figure of Scheherazade is one of opening the Sultan's mind. He's emblematic of the ignorant person: the ignorant, lock-in, raging man who wants to kill all he doesn't understand. The model of the book is the extraordinary, very-large, Mirror of Princes.

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Though it's marvelously entertaining, and I had fantastic fun writing the book, it's not terribly easily, the material, and it's not all that familiar...although we think it is familiar. The processes of the wonderful narratives are very intricate. It's about the charm - the spellbinding charm - of ingenuity, and it's not so easy to remember the plots or the structure or even the names.

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Romance, in its earliest surviving form, was called ‘erotika pathemata’ by the Greeks - tales of erotic suffering.

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The tripartite structure - so you remember the third brother, second brother, first brother, or the first dervish, second dervish, and third dervish. This is very like embroidering a cloth, as you have to know where you are with the knots.

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Mythographer was suggested by the man who made my website, actually.

I do write a lot about myth and I do feel it's a bit pompous to state it that way, but it does distinguish me from other writers. When it was first on the web, people began to use it in an ironical and satirical way. Now, however, people tend to use it straight.

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The female form provides the solution in which the essence itself is held;

she is passio, and acted upon, the male is actio, the mover.

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I see the carpet reflecting that narratological structure of the storytelling, with Scheherazade as the outside frame story on the outside, with the stories woven on the inside. It's also demonstrative of the infinity of it, with no beginning and no end. The carpet is also a kind of metonym for cinema, this idea that the flat surface carries a terrific depth of imaginative field while remaining totally flat.

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One of the metaphors of the book is the carpet.

Not just the flying carpet, but the carpet as a woven surface in which many repetitions and motifs recur and mirror one another. This is very much reflected within the stories: they have borders within borders, repeated motifs which change. They have their feet in oral conventions, and for the mnemonics, the storyteller needs to have a structure in order to remember the stories.

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The sombre-suited masculine world of the Protestant religion is altogether too much like a gentlemen's club to which the ladies are only admitted on special days.

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Wonder has no opposite; it springs up already doubled in itself, compounded of dread and desire at once, attraction and recoil, producing a thrill, the shudder of pleasure and of fear.

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There's a whole slew of wonderful speculation of flying in a fanciful way.

Gulliver is one of the central examples; Swift has the hum of Arabian Nights in his ear with Gulliver's Travels. The difference is in scale - Gulliver as a kind of Sinbad kind of figure, the way he is picked up and carried. Just to finish up with Scheherazade, I do think that The Arabian Nights could be considered as a great book on women's position in the world.

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I have many, many editions of the books, and they are all rather different.

In the end, the one I used was the most recent French translation. French suits the tales well, and it's a beautiful translation. The Italian one is good as well... English has fallen short.

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The Grimm brothers always said that their informants were women, which is possibly not true, women of the people. There is the constant evocation of women's voices, in the collecting and arrangement of these stories, and yet the message of so many of them is incredibly misogynist. I was very puzzled by that, and that book explores that contradiction.

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I was brought up a Catholic and I was quite fervent, because I was sent to a convent school.

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It seemed to me to be a parable of the exchange of goods, rather Marxist in some ways, in the new world of global forces. What the forgers do is write the brand name to try and change it, and it works! Loads of people buy fake Prada handbags, or Chanel sunglasses; they've been changed. They have been truly, really changed.

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There is humanist enterprise of the book, and amongst that there are many, many stories. And that is why at the end, when he says that the stories are so illuminating that they must be engraved and encased in gold and put in the palace library, the people who compile the book are telling us that this is a collection of human wisdom.

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Our traditional stories are based on an aristocratic model without a middle class, whereas The Arabian Nights reflect people living in cities, traders, merchants, travelers, with a wide range of personalities.

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I used to retain information extremely fast, so perhaps it's hardening a bit and I don't take the impression as well as I used to. Instead of writing in free flight, I had to check on the stories all the time. So I have decided I better to do it while I am fresh!

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I have always argued that we can't live by or be made to exist outside of mythology, and that every group and nation has, possibly unacknowledged to themselves, some myths by which they live. It remains important to revisit them, understand them and possibly retell them - or at least own up to them - and then it becomes possible to move something. If it's obscure or invisible to you, you can't budge those understandings.

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