Mingling and Metamorphing: Articulations of Feminism and Postcoloniality in Marina Warner’s Fiction

  • Chantal Zabus


Like two feisty goddesses at an antique repast, Mary Douglas and Marina Warner recalled, over lunch in 2001, Elias Canetti’s reason for not liking a book: ‘It hasn’t any transformations in it’.1 Our two deities motioned that this rule should prevail in contemporary fiction. Transformation, altered states, metamorphing, shape-shifting loom large in today’s scientific developments — from stem cell research to genetic engineering — and in contemporary culture, which has produced mutants, replicants, aliens, cyborgs and clones.2 Such metamorphic avatars also imbue Warner’s novels, which interweave two dominant movements of the twentieth century: postcoloniality and feminism. Both movements question the very concept of history and the way it foregrounds the point of view of the winners and of the male sex.3 Yet, beyond such redressing of wrongs, Warner further links female oppression and the oppression of the colonised. She also explores the ambiguity of female intercessing, womanly interstices and other chinks, which inevitably weaken ‘his story’ and enrich her story through fiction and myth.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

For Further Reading

  1. For a hard copy list of Marina Warner’s work up to 2001, see Contemporary Novelists, ed. David Madden et al., 7th edn (New York: St James Press, 2001). For a more up-to-date list on the internet, see the British Council website: <>.Google Scholar
  2. Bush, Barbara, Slave Women in Caribbean Society 1650–1838 (London: James Currey, 1990).Google Scholar
  3. Hester, Marianne, Lewd Women and Wicked Witches: a Study of the Dynamics of Male Domination (London: Routledge, 1992).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Hulme, Peter, Colonial Encounters: Europe and the Native Caribbean, 1492–1797 (London: Methuen, 1986).Google Scholar
  5. Gilroy, Paul, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (London: Verso, 1993).Google Scholar
  6. Minh-ha, Trinh, Woman, Native, Other: Writing Postcoloniality and Feminism (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1989).Google Scholar
  7. Zabus, Chantai, Tempests after Shakespeare (New York: St. Martin’s Press/London: Palgrave, 2002).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Chantal Zabus 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chantal Zabus

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations