Stranger Magic, By Marina Warner


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The Independent Culture

In this transporting chef d'oeuvre, Warner explores the impact of the Arabian Nights on the West: "An enchanted world that could be safely explored… because they unfold in an elsewhere different from the habitat of Judeo-Christian beliefs."

Incorporating 20 of the yarns, Warner's magic carpet soars from Renaissance alchemy to Freud's couch. We have since become familiar with settings like Basra for less romantic reasons.

Warner describes how viewing the 1924 movie The Thief of Baghdad during the Iraq War made it seem "an unconscious parable of Western expansionism."