Marina Warner

Signs and Wonders. Essays on Literature and Culture

Non-Fiction Monograph

Chatto & Windus (2003)
Vintage Paperback (2004)

This remarkable, resonant collection draws together essays written over twenty-five years, offering a wide-ranging retrospective of her changing ideas on literature and culture – on fiction, drama, religion, language and fairy tale. The different sections range from explorations of our taste for the miraculous, whether it be the Virgin Mary and angels, or voodoo and showers of toads, to our need for heroes and villains, from Joan of Arc to Myra Hindley.

Finding unexpected links between the images of literature, art and politics she turns her attention to Caliban and the Caribbean, and to fairies, myths and magic. She listens attentively, in unexpected ways, to some of the strong voices of our time, from Lewis Carroll to Angela Carter and Margaret Atwood; she unravels our fascination with language and obscenity, and questions the way we think about our bodies and minds. Penetrating, perceptive and enlightening, Signs & Wonders is not only a book of essays, but a collection of original marvels.


‘Marina Warner’s essays and lectures reveal a consistently honest and agile mind preoccupied with the powerful controlling fictions of our lives’

The Observer

‘Clever, witty, erudite and, above all, usefully explanatory, these signs and wonders are a literary cabinet of curiosities for our sadly desultory times’

Alberto Manguel, The Sunday Times

‘As a leading explorer of a largely uncharted territory, Marina Warner is an impressive, inspiring but never intimidating guide’

Peter Stanford, The Independent

‘Marina Warner possesses an astonishing breadth of knowledge on so many subjects…Signs & Wonders is a dazzling performance.This collection must confirm Warner’s reputation as one of the finest literary and intellectual minds at work in Britain’

Caryl Phillips, Times Literary Supplement

Other editions

First published by Chatto & Windus, 2004