Friday, May 13, 2011

Extolling the Virtues of Fantasy Literature

I was just reading The Writer's Guide to Fantasy Literature. I don't usually read books like that. Mostly because they are generally really boring. But so far this one is fantastic.

Chapter 2 is called "What is Fantasy?" It's essentially the best explanation of "why?" for fantasy that I've ever read. I'm still blown away. Everyone should read it.

Unfortunately, I can't post the entire chapter here, or I totally would.

The thing that I love the most about it is that it quotes some of the biggest authors, all in defense of fantasy.

There are so many people that oppose fantasy, especially for adults, in saying that it detracts from reality. It blurs the line, makes people dissatisfied with our world, etc. I never really believed that rubbish, but I didn't know how to go about explaining my opinion.

This chapter did it perfectly. It is so exactly what I've been trying to say for a considerably long time.

As I said, I can't post the whole thing. And since I can't, you'll just have to take my word for it and go check it out from the library. But I also know that it is pretty unlikely that anyone will do this just because I said so. After all, a lot of the other "writer's guide to" books are pretty pathetic.

So, in order to spark your curiosity, I shall put a few quotes that I especially loved.

"We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time...

- T. S. Eliot"

"As Consolation, Tolkien points to the resolution of fairy stories in happy endings, in the return at the end to a normal world. These aspects of fantasy, says Tolkien, are not escapist. They embrace that which we most yearn for- an acute awareness of the beauty of the real world- by leaving it, imagining richly, and then returning."

"Once we believe..... we begin to see the forms of good and evil. First as children, later as adults, we come to believe that even creatures as small as ourselves can play a role, that the world is affected by the actions we take."

"The well-intentioned mothers who don't want their children polluted with fairy tales would not only deny them their childhood, with its high creativity, but they would have them conform to the secular world, with its dirty devices.

- Madeleine L'Engle"

In answer to the question of whether fantasy will warp a child's mind to confuse fantasy with reality:

"It would be much truer to say that fairy land arouses a longing for he knows not what. It stirs and troubles him (to his lifelong enrichment) with the dim sense of something beyond his reach and, far from dulling or emptying the actual world, gives it a new dimension of depth.

- C. S. Lewis"

There are many more pearls in this chapter. But I'll let you read it for yourself. If you don't, you'll definitely miss out, and forever wonder what might have been.

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