Marina Warner

Marina Warner is a novelist and cultural historian. Her latest book ‘Stranger Magic’, published by Vintage, is out now in paperback

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Palestinians extinguish fire from the car of Ahmed al-Jabari after it was hit by one of several Israeli air strikes in Gaza City

What should the next BBC Director General do? And will the Israel/Palestine conflict ever end?

This week's big questions are answered by the novelist and historian Marina Warner

Book Of A Lifetime: La Peau de Chagrin/The Magic Skinby Honoré de Balzac

Bent on killing himself by throwing himself into the Seine after losing his shirt at the gaming tables, Raphael de Valentin, the romanticised, doomed young hero of Balzac's early novel, 'La Peau de chagrin' (l831), turns into an antiques shop to while away the hours till darkness (when he can be sure not to be rescued). There he finds himself in an emporium of civilisation's treasures, from all over the world and in every marvellous material, executed to the highest degree of human art.

Books: Literary equivalent of a platypus

Marina Warner on a compendium of science that bursts dazzlingly from a poet's imagination; Fishing for Amber: A Long Story by Ciaran Carson Granta pounds 12.99

Avenging the prince with crocodile tears

The tragic story of Caspar Hauser has been hijacked by a pushy psychoanalyst. By Marina Warner; Lost Prince: The Unsolved Mystery of Caspar Hauser by Jeffrey Moussaief Masson The Free Press, pounds 16.99

Lucky dip into the myth kitty

Take a spot of Grimm, a hint of Apuleius, add a pinch of commedia dell'arte and - abracadabra! - you've got an opera. But then, as Marina Warner spells out, the truth behind our fairy-tales is more often found, than lost, in their translation
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