The Fantastic in World Literature and the Arts: Selected Essays from the Fifth International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts

The Fantastic in World Literature and the Arts: Selected Essays from the Fifth International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts

The Fantastic in World Literature and the Arts: Selected Essays from the Fifth International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts

The Fantastic in World Literature and the Arts: Selected Essays from the Fifth International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts

Synopsis

From a discussion of the problem of communicating with non-human beings and a review of popular fantastic films to an examination of stage portrayals of Dr. Frankenstein's monster, the essays included reflect and reinfoce the international appeal of the fantastic. Studies on J.R.R. Tolkien, Lewis Caroll, Carlos Fuentes, Edgar Allen Poe, Jorges Luis Borges, and others show how writers, artists, and directors use the impossible as a way of presenting familiar problems and themes--such as the relation of the past to the future or our attitudes towards death--in a new light.

Excerpt

Fantasy begins with seriously entertaining the impossible: it exists in the imagination whether that imagination be applied to the arts, literature, film, or drama. As the Irish writer Benedict Kiely remarked, "Take what you see out of life and reshape it in your imagination. It is not what happened which is important, but what should have happened."

Brian Attebury, The Fantasy Tradition in American Literature, contends that "any narrative which includes as a significant part of its make-up some violation of what the author clearly believes to be natural law--that is fantasy." All the essays in this volume reflect his definition, but several qualify it in interesting ways. In fact, reading these essays reinforces George P. Landow's caveat: "Fantasy and our conception of what is fantastic depend upon our view of reality: what we find improbable and unexpected follows from what we find probable and likely, and the fantastic will therefore necessarily vary with the individual and the age."

Reality does depend upon what one views as probable or even as possible, as V. Harger-Grinling and A. R. Chadwick contend in their "Study of Madness in Hubert Aquin Neige Noire." So does communication. How will we communicate with beings fundamentally different from humans? With those whose sense of reality and of the universe may be not so much antithetical to our own as entirely removed from our own? Gregory M. Shreve considers this possiblity in A Lesson in Xenolinguistics," which discusses possi-

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