Worlds within Women: Myth and Mythmaking in Fantastic Literature by Women

Worlds within Women: Myth and Mythmaking in Fantastic Literature by Women

Worlds within Women: Myth and Mythmaking in Fantastic Literature by Women

Worlds within Women: Myth and Mythmaking in Fantastic Literature by Women

Synopsis

Focusing on the connection between metaphor and myth, Thelma Shinn provides a methaphoric reading of fantastic literature by women that enables the reader to glimpse its underlying mythic purpose and content. She examines some seventy novels by twenty-four women writers and draws on a rich variety of secondary sources in literature, women's studies, science fiction/fantasy scholarship, and comparative mythology.

Excerpt

To discuss myth and mythmaking in contemporary writing is essential; as Wallace W. Douglas asserts in "The Meanings of 'Myth' in Modern Criticism" in John B. Vickery edition of essays on Myth and Literature (1966), "at times 'myth' seems to be the most important and inclusive word in modern criticism" (p. 119). However, what does "myth" mean to the literary critic? Lauri Honko has offered no less than twenty-two definitions--ten from antiquity and twelve from current usage-- in The Problem of Defining Myth in Alan Dundes edition of Sacred Narrative (1984: 41). It is not surprising, therefore, to discover contradictory uses and judgments of mythic criticism. Specifically in reference to fantastic literature, for example, Casey Fredericks offers a flexible use of the term in his study of The Future of Eternity (1982), arguing that in science fiction "creative science and the myth-making faculty" can be "mutually complementary" and that the patterns are "dynamic encounters" rather than "static archetypal images" (p. 41). Less encompassing, on the other hand, is Albert Wendland definition of mythic science fiction in Science, Myth, and the Fictional Creation of Alien Worlds (1985) as "conventional" entertainments: "The comparable activity here is not science but myth-making, the establishment of an over-all 'legend of . . .

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