Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

What is fantasy fiction?

February 25th, 2010 by G.

If the Mormon Review ever gets around to publishing my essay on The Great Divorce, you’ll find that Overstreet’s definition of what’s important about fantasy is what I was trying to get at.

In short, I think there are powers and mysteries at work in the world that can only be expressed through fairy tales. Fairy tales allow us to cast nets into mystery and catch things that are otherwise inexpressible. Tolkien said that fairy tales can give us a glimpse of our eventual redemption in a way no other story can.

At its best, fantasy provides us with an escape from the narrow, restrictive perspectives of modernism. And with its emphasis on the primal, it returns us to engagement with the elements, with the stuff of rocks and trees and fire and rivers and mountains. Since those elements of creation “pour forth speech,” according to the Psalmist, we’re able to hear some things more clearly when we meditate there.

Comments (10)
Filed under: We transcend your bourgeois categories | Tags: , , , , , , ,
February 25th, 2010 09:52:23
10 comments

Johnna
February 25, 2010

Yes, but would this message resonate with anyone but the converted? My husband’s respect for me is only going to be dulled by my recreational reading of, frex, the Wheel of Time series. I know enough to put it on my iPhone so he at least doesn’t have to see the book covers and be reminded.

It’s a considerate deception?

Thanks for the pointer to Mormon Review. Quite the high-power board there. I’ll look forward to your _Great Divorce_ review.


Vader
February 25, 2010

My husband’s respect for me is only going to be dulled by my recreational reading of, frex, the Wheel of Time series.

I’m very sorry to hear that. I know next to nothing about the series, but it seems like a strong reaction. Why would the fact you read it significantly alter his opinion of you.


Johnna
February 25, 2010

I wouldn’t say it significantly alters his opinion, but it does shade it. Because a wife who is reading fantasy (or science fiction) just isn’t as sexy (to him, and his friends) as a wife who reads Thomas Pynchon. Or James Joyce. I think he’s told everyone how many Anthony Burgess books I’ve read. Understandably, he’s not boasting about the Tolkien.

My husband is a great guy who doesn’t have a nerd bone in his body. It’s a cross-cultural marriage that way.

(What, no marketing going on within the Vader marriage?)


Adam G.
February 25, 2010

Fantasy and other genre fiction can be extremely worthwhile and still be low status. No contradiction there.

Also, no offense, but Wheels of Time could still be low status even if some fantasy and other genre works were impressive to literary types.


Vader
February 25, 2010

What, no marketing going on within the Vader marriage?

Vader is a widower.


Johnna
February 25, 2010

No offense taken. Wheel of Time (just finished Book 5/14, working my way up to Sanderson’s wrap-up of the series) strikes me as Manga in print, and wouldn’t command universal respect among fantasy readers either.

But, it does have all that evocative landscape description, landscape that reflects the good or evil in the land; and magic that works on the basis of self-control, evil reveals as ugliness, even if temporarily disguised, goodness resulting in youth and beauty (an no wrinkles for women). And being on the side of the Good is epic, obviously world-affecting, obviously matters.

It’s a nice break from controlling my tongue around a teenager telling me I’m not qualified to wear her dad’s Pink Floyd t-shirt.


Johnna
February 25, 2010

Vader, how insensitive of me. I’m so sorry (again) for your loss.

It’s just hard for me to remember that a guy like you, so tall, such a great dresser, hasn’t been snatched up.


Vader
February 25, 2010

It was a great shock to find her assisting the armed and extremely dangerous criminal I was attempting to serve a warrant on. It was a greater shock to learn that my attempt at rendering her unconscious, for my own safety and hers, resulted in her death and the deaths of our unborn children. It should be understandable that I have not had much interest in remarriage.


Adam G.
February 25, 2010

You guys, you two are going to need surgery to get those tongues out of those cheeks. Funny stuff.


Vader
February 25, 2010

Removing my tongue from my cheek would be pretty minor surgery compared with some I’ve had.

Sorry about the milk out your nose thing. I recommend not sipping anything while clicking on the “Refresh” button.

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