Fiction: Portrait of a Lady ; Marina Warner's New Novel Is a Beguiling Tour-De-Force, a Virtuoso Exploration of the Myth of Leto Which Spans Centuries and Civilisations with Aplomb
Warner, Marina, The Independent (London, England)
The Leto Bundle
By Marina Warner
CHATTO pounds 16.99
Marina Warner was brought up in Cairo and Brussels, and educated at Oxford. She has been a Features Editor for Vogue, as well as a Getty Scholar, and a Visiting Fellow Commoner at Trinity College, Cambridge. Her fiction includes Indigo and The Lost Father, which won a Commonwealth Writers Prize and was shortlisted for the Booker. Her non-fiction titles include Alone of All Her Sex, From the Beast to the Blonde, Joan of Arc and Managing Monsters. The Leto Bundle is published on 24 May.
To order your copy of "The Leto Bundle" at the special offer price of pounds 14.99 (inc p&p), please telephone 01206 255 800, and quote the reference "Independent Offer".
Curator Dr Hortense Fernly, from the National Museum of Albion, has removed the mummy known as the Leto Bundle to put in a travelling exhibition.
IT CAME AS A SURPRISE when the number of visitors to Room XIX began to grow.
The room did not have its own dedicated guard; he or she perambulated from the more frequented adjacent rooms to supervise it, now and then. So it was Pilar, one of the cleaners on the early morning shift, who noticed the change, though she did not feel it necessary at first to report that dustballs were collecting in the corners. This was a familiar sign, instantly legible to her and the troop of women trundling round their laden carts of mops and brooms and bin liners, that human traffic had increased; after a blockbuster show had drawn its daily record-breaking attendance, the crowds would have left behind them - especially in winter when they were wrapped up in woollens and tweeds - a tideline of hair and flakes of skin and lint, making a slut's wool, a mortal rime of leavings, which the cleaners would sweep up as best they could. They weren't allowed to damp it down, because such a procedure would affect the humidity and temperature controls, and they did not use vacuum cleaners but gave the floors a weekly polish with powered revolving brushes that seemed to whirl their handlers about the rooms like dodgems. A fair amount of the human spoor escaped trapping. But Pilar also found, a few days after the dustballs began to gather, offerings of flowers and even a photograph and a message or two tucked under the laminated label on the wall ("Anonymous Female, known as `Helen', c425-475 CE; Sarcophagus, c250-275 CE"), as well as fastened - with hairgrips and chewing gum and other means - to the cords around the sarcophagus and its inmate.
Pilar told one of her fellow cleaners in their canteen afterwards, "Like prayer," she said. "In my country, that's what we do when a child is sick..." She took out a snapshot from the pocket of her overalls, with a message on ruled paper torn from a notepad in big letters.
Her team worker, Eileen, who was nearer home in Enoch than Pilar and could read besides, did so: "HOMELESS LADY YOU KIND GIV ME WERK." The photograph showed a woman, shadowed by a headscarf.
"Looks religious, mind," Eileen commented. "I don't see eye to eye with that stuff, not since what the holy fathers did to my Timmy..." She accepted another scrap from Pilar, and read: `Dear Lady of Scattered People, please find me shelter.' That's more like it."
Pilar's eyes flickered at the words. She handed Eileen another message, this time densely inked in a fluent, tightly controlled script.
Eileen turned it around. "It's in one of those back-to-front languages." And she chuckled.
One of the guards, overhearing the two cleaning ladies, came up. He suggested reporting the rise in visitors and their peculiar offerings.
But the gearing of security at the National Museum is very precise and deeply considered, and changes are undertaken with caution. So by the time something was being done, much more than the appointment of a single guard …
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: Fiction: Portrait of a Lady ; Marina Warner's New Novel Is a Beguiling Tour-De-Force, a Virtuoso Exploration of the Myth of Leto Which Spans Centuries and Civilisations with Aplomb. Contributors: Warner, Marina - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: May 2, 2001. Page number: 45. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.