Tag Archives: fantasy

Fantasy, a Portal to the Numinous

People are often drawn to fantasy in our post-Enlightenment world because they hunger for the numinous.

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Fantasy To Cope with Adult Pressures

James Barrie’s “Peter and Wendy” was forged out of the intense resentment of a boy who was forced to grow up too early.

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Diana Wynne Jones’s Feminist Fantasy

Diana Wynne Jones’s “Fire and Hemlock” draws on the Tam Lin story to give women a model for heroism that counters the role assigned to them in traditional fairy tales.

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British and American Fantasy Contrasted

An “Atlantic” article argues that British fantasy is richer than American fantasy. I agree that they are different and that there are interesting reasons for those differences–but that American fantasy is vibrant as well.

Posted in Grahame (Kenneth), Lewis (C. S.), Tolkien (J.R.R.) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Donne’s Lovers, Spooky at a Distance

Tuesday Adam Gopnik makes some nice literary allusions in a recent New Yorker essay-review of George Musser’s Spooky at a Distance, which is about the history of quantum entanglement theory. Entanglement, also known as non-locality and described by Einstein as “spooky at a distance,” claims that two particles of a single wave function can influence each other, even […]

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How Fantasy Saves Our Souls

Great fantasy can always be seen as oppositional, pushing against prevailing modes of thought and opening up portals into new human possibilities.

Posted in Cervantes (Miguel de), Erdrich (Louise), Euripides, Sir Gawain Poet, Tolkien (J.R.R.) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Fantasy about U.S. Thirst for War

Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods” understands the thirst of those Americans that want to go to war with Iran.

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Erdrich Charts a Third Way for Fantasy

L. Frank Baum and Edgar Allen Poe represent the light and the dark strains of American fantasy. But Louise Erdrich introduces a third strain, Native American, to the conversation.

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Yeats & Ireland’s World of Faery

Yeats’ “Stolen Child” longs for the lost world of faery but also finds something precious in the here and now world of Ireland.

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Melville’s Parable of American Denial

Melville’s “Benito Cereno” captures the contradictions of today’s conservative extremists.

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How to Analyze Fantasy Projections

What fantasy means in 15 simple steps.

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Fantasy Provides Aid for Life’s Storms

As a child who grew up immersed in fantasy fiction, I knew, as deeply as I knew anything, that these books put me in touch with something that was deep and true. As I grew up, of course, I learned that I had to move beyond fantasy just as I had to move beyond childhood. […]

Posted in Keats (John), Shakespeare (William) | Also tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Prospero’s Magic, a Model for Fantasy Lit

“The Tempest” fits magically into a fantasy course.

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Fantasy’s Special Insight into Reality

Fantasy literature becomes something different after the world ceased believing in magic.

Posted in Tolkien (J.R.R.) | Also tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Fantasy to the Rescue in Hard Times

Byatt’s book “The Children’s Hour” demonstrates many of the uses of fantasy.

Posted in Byatt (A.S.), Carroll (Lewis) | Also tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Epiphany Sunday and the Arabian Nights

The Christian Feast of the Epiphany and the Arabian Nights come together in a fanciful Scott Bates poem about the three wise men passing through Baghdad on their way to see Jesus.

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Jane Austen Can Change Your Love Life

“Jane Austen Book Club” makes the point that great literature can in fact change your life.

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What Fictional Fantasy Means

Having taught British Fantasy Literature for the first time last semester, I need to think back on it before it becomes a distant memory.    By reflecting publicly, I can share some of the insights I gained from the course. Two major things I learned are that (1) fantasy is an oppositional genre—by which I […]

Posted in Andersen (Hans Christian), Barrie (J. M.), Carroll (Lewis), Chaucer (Geoffrey), Coleridge (Samuel Taylor), Dickens (Charles), Grahame (Kenneth), Grimm Brothers, Haggard (Rider), Keats (John), Kipling (Rudyard), Rossetti (Christina), Shakespeare (William), Sir Gawain Poet, Tennyson (Alfred Lord), Tolkien (J.R.R.) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Harry Potter, Teenage Hero’s Quest

During Christmas week we get to imagine being children again so I’ve decided to write about student responses to Harry Potter.   Members of my British Fantasy Literature class could write essays on any work of fantasy as long as they applied the tools and perspectives we developed in the course. Michelle Steahl and Evan Rowe […]

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Fantasy Portals to Other Worlds

I have a special place in my heart for The Magician’s Nephew, chronologically the first of the Narnia series. When I was a child, I was especially fascinated by “the wood between the worlds.” This is a quiet forest in which can be found innumerable pools, each of which is the entrance to a world. […]

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Death Wears a Parka–or Is It an Anorak?

Today’s post is coming to you through the lens of two illnesses. Mine is the milder one: yesterdat I twisted the wrong way in the bathroom and suddenly found myself on the floor undergoing terrible back spasms. They got worse as the day progressed and I wrote today’s post standing up, my laptop on my […]

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Moving Beyond Adolescent Fantasies

Sometimes I will discover that two different works start talking to each other simply because I happen to be teaching them both at the same time. This week Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey (from my Jane Austen first year seminar) and John Keats’ Eve of St. Agnes (from my British fantasy course) engaged in one of […]

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The Children’s Books that Shaped Me

The poem I printed by my father in my last post provides a good map of the books and poems that he used to read to me and my brothers.  In case there were any works that you do not recognize, here’s a key: –Leerie is “The Lamplighter” in Robert Lewis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden […]

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Fantasy As a Roundabout Road to Truth

Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn  I didn’t do entire justice in Monday’s post to the Tolkien essay of my son Toby. In correcting that here, I also open up a more complicated vision of fantasy in general, as well as Tolkien’s fantasy specifically. I was wondering if Tolkien had retreated into fantasy as a refuge from […]

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Fantasy: Help or Hindrance?

My friend Alan Paskow, who is struggling with cancer, queried me about my post on Alfred Noyes’ “The Highwayman,” wondering whether the poem wasn’t just an insubstantial fantasy. I’ve been writing about The Lord of the Rings as a fantasy perhaps indulged in by a World War I veteran who wasn’t willing to face up […]

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A Legendary Elf-Dwarf Friendship

After a year’s sabbatical, I am resuming my duties, one of which includes being the advisor of the Tolkien Society. The group gathers regularly to hear talks, forge chain armor, attend masked balls (not that there are any masked balls in Lord of the Rings), and engage in other Medieval-related activities. I’ll mark the occasion […]

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