Other Worlds: The Fantasy Genre

Other Worlds: The Fantasy Genre

Other Worlds: The Fantasy Genre

Other Worlds: The Fantasy Genre

Excerpt

It seems obvious that fantasy relies upon a compelling, well‐ paced story, but this fact is often overlooked or obscured. It is overlooked when one considers the work simply as a springboard to allegorical meanings, and is obscured when one does not distinguish fantasy from related genres. In its traditional sense, story requires a narrative plot line, the unfolding of events, the development of characters into living beings who think about actions, who do act, and whose actions have effects. A story moves from a beginning, through a middle, to an end, and in the process emotionally or psychologically moves the reader. Story, considered within these boundaries, is a structure with a purpose and end.

A good story has always been the foremost aim of fantasists. Reflecting on The Chronicles of Narnia , C.S. Lewis admitted that "I fell in love with the Form [of fantasy] itself; its brevity, its severe restraints on description, its flexible traditionalism, its inflexible hostility to all analysis, digression, reflections and 'gas'." This central focus upon story does not mean that fantasy authors condemn themselves to sterile prose. Quite the opposite is true, but story is always the central pole about which aesthetic excellences such as internal richness, complication, imagery, and harmony may revolve. The centrality of story does at once separate fantasy from several allied genres, but also locates the genre in relation to them and literary tradition. This may be seen by considering fantasy in relation to three related genres; allegory, science fiction, and dystopian literature.

Fantasy and Allegory

Like all great works of literature, both allegory and fantasy suggest meanings which arise from story but lie beyond the story. Where do such meanings lie? In the minds of the readers. Because of the suggestive nature of the two genres, one would expect to . . .

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