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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Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee