Cannibal Tales: The Hunger for Conquest
This year's Reith lecturer is the Booker prize-nominated author Marina Warner. A writer of fiction, criticism and history, her works include novels and short stories as well as studies of art, myths, symbols, and fairytales. Her series of Reith Lectures entitled 'Managing Monsters' explore how myths express and shape our attitudes.
In her penultimate lecture, Marina Warner explores myths of cannibalism from The Tempest to Hannibal Lecter. She argues that it is really only in the last decade that historical study has established how deeply fantasy has shaped the story and the chronicles of conquest. She explores how the imagery of forbidden ingestion masked other powerful longings and fears such as that of mingling and hybridity, fears about a future loss of identity and about the changes that history itself brings, and how their message of 'either we eat them or they eat us' helped to justify the presence of the invader, the settler and the trader bringing civilisation.