The modern fantasy novel might hardly seem to need a defence, but its position in contemporary literature in the 1980s was still rather ambivalent. Many post-war writers had produced highly successful fantasy novels, some phenomenal publishing successes had occurred in the field, and an increasing number of universities throughout the English-speaking world now included the literary criticism of fantasy as part of their English Literature courses. None the less some critics and academics condemned the whole genre with a passion that seemed less than objectively critical.
In this book, originally published in 1984, Dr Ann Swinfen presents a wide-ranging and comprehensive view of fantasy: what it is, what it tries to achieve, what fundamental differences distinguish it from mainstream realist fiction. She concentrates on the three decades from 1945, when a new generation of writers found that Tolkein had made fantasy ‘respectable’. Her approach is thematic, rather than by individual author, and she brings out the profound moral purpose that underlies much modern fantasy, in a wide range of works, both British and American, such as Russell Hoban’s The Mouse and His Child, C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia and Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea Trilogy.
Acknowledgements. Abbreviations. 1. Fantasy and the Marvellous 2. Talking Beasts 3. Worlds in Parallel 4. Secondary Worlds 5. Layers of Meaning 6. Experience Liberated 7. Idealisms: Religious and Philosophic 8. Idealisms: Social and Political 9. The Perilous Realm. Notes. Select Bibliography. Index.
Routledge Library Editions: Modern Fiction (26 volume set) contains titles originally published between 1977 and 1997. It includes titles on the roles of women in literature, fantasy as a genre, a source guide to science fiction and many titles by renowned academics looking at specific novelists, the progression of their work and how it has been influential within modern fiction. Covering writers such as Iris Murdoch, John le Carré, Doris Lessing, Kurt Vonnegut and others, this collection will be of particular interest to students of literature and literary criticism.