Marina Warner, Inventory of a Life Mislaid: An Unreliable Memoir
In The Encyclopedia of Life Writing, Francis Russell Hart is quoted as having written that ‘[m]emoirs personalize history and historicize the personal … memoirs are about individuals,’ but they can reflect ‘an event, an era, an institution, a class identity’ (qtd. in Buss 595). This fits in perfectly with Marina Warner’s Inventory of A Life Mislaid: An Unreliable Memoir, her latest publication and most openly autobiographical one. On the one hand, crucial historical moments are personalized such as post-World-War II British neo-colonialism or ‘soft power’ in Egypt and the ensuing 1952 Cairo riots whose circumstances and consequences her parents, Emilia Terzulli and Esmond Warner, went through. On the other hand, Warner’s personal past, or rather her parents’ first meeting, wedding and various trips which transported them from Bari to London, then to a cosmopolitan post-war Cairo where the father opened a WH Smith bookshop, are historicized.
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