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About Marina Warner

Marina Warner is a renowned novelist and cultural critic. She has co-curated the major exhibition on the theme of Metamorphosis at London’s Science Museum.

Articles by Marina Warner

This week's editor

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Disembodied eyes, or the culture of apocalypse

Is photography a threat to memory? Marina Warner on how images can dissolve rather than preserve the past.

A life for freedom

Marina Warner writes from The Italian Academy at Edward Said’s own Columbia University, New York about a great public intellectual and a rare, true friend.

Wrapping up 'Hair'

From pre-historic bog-people to ‘big hair’; virgin martyrs to dresses spun from lost souls, to the hairy Devil himself, the author of ‘The Beast to the Blonde’ takes us on a final grand tour of openDemocracy’s virtual museum.

Sorry: the present state of apology

The theme of ‘apology’ is in the air: governments are saying it to former colonial subjects, or to political prisoners in post-dictatorships; former terrorists to their targets; banks and businesses to looted or polluted clients; churches and cults to victims of abuse. Why are they doing it? In her approach to today’s latest ‘political enthusiasm’, we accompany Marina Warner – novelist, critic, and subversive anatomist of myth and the collective subconscious – on a sparkling tour of the literature of apology over twenty-five centuries. This article is the first in a series of six published on openDemocracy.

Scene One: Io

In which the archetypal figure of human heroic suffering meets the persecuted eternal feminine. Before history invented public apology, was there any solace?

Io guarded by ArgosThe heifer Io guarded by Argos, on an Athenian Red Figure pitcher, c.

Scene Two: St Augustine's Confessions

In which, in the moment of confession, two figures emerge: the apologist and human self-portraiture. From the very beginning self-scrutiny is a danger zone.

St AugustineSt Augustine by Sandro Botticelli

In his Confessions, the bishop of Hippo invokes the God he loves, calling him unceasingly in the vocative: Tu – Thou or You.

Scene Three: The Marriage of Figaro

In which forgiveness, and human recognition work their magic. But how well, and for how long? Maybe, nothing short of revolution will do?

Again, we skip on several centuries – from Augustine writing in what is present day Algeria, to Lorenzo Da Ponte and Mozart in Vienna in 1786, and The Marriage of Figaro.

Scene Four: Red Dust by Gillian Slovo

In which many kinds of truth…and reconciliation, are investigated. Sometimes only a deep pychic process can effect healing. Where does the personal end and the political begin?

Red Dust by Gillian SlovoRed Dust by Gillian Slovo

Sorry: the conclusion

In which apology comes to play a necessary part in our modern world, contributing to the revisioning of national history and the shaping of group identities. But do we fully understand what we have done?

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