Bridges to Fantasy

Bridges to Fantasy

Bridges to Fantasy

Bridges to Fantasy


Thirteen original essays written specifically for the second Eaton Conference on Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature, held February 23- 24, 1980, at the University of California, Riverside.

These essays demonstrate the variety of fantasy forms and their pervasiveness throughout the ages and will stimulate further study of this complex and elusive mode. The essays- by Harold Bloom, writer and DeVane Professor of the Humanities at Yale University; Larry McCaffery, Assistant Professor of En glish at San Diego State University; Marta E. Sánchez, Instructor of English at the University of California, San Diego; Arlen J. Hansen, Professor of English at the University of the Pacific, Stockton; David Clayton, Instructor of Comparative Literatureat the University of California, San Diego; Robert Sale, writer and Professor of English at the University of Washington; G. Richard Thompson, Professor of English at Purdue Univer sity, West Lafayette; Robert A. Collins, Coordinator of the an nual Swann Conference on the Fantastic and Instructor at Flor ida Atlantic University, Boca Raton; John Gerlach, Associate Professor of English at Cleveland State University; David Ket terer, writer and Professor of English at Concordia University, Montreal; George R. Guffey, Professor of English at the Univer sity of California, Los Angeles; Jack P. Rawlins, Associate Pro fessor of English at California State University, Chico; and Gary Kern, writer and translator of early Soviet literature- examine fantasy on many levels of interest: as an element of human thought, as a constant factor in the social and intellectual environment, and as a generator of form in art and literature.


One of the most significant aspects of modern culture is the resurgence of interest in fantasy on all levels--as element of human thought, as constant factor in man's social and intellectual environment, as generator of form in art and literature. In all these areas the focus on fantasy as category of investigation promises to lead to important modifications in accepted critical patterns, indeed to reevaluation of the role and purpose of artistic activity itself.

The central problem in the study of fantasy, then, is not merely to define another genre, but to circumscribe the tools and methods needed to approach works of art from a new perspective. Each of the essays presented in this volume seeks to provide a coherent theoretical model for such an approach. The essays fall, roughly, into three groups-- structures, contexts, and themes--which provide general "angles of definition." These are only starting points, however, and each study uses its particular angle not to confine a given text or problem, but rather to open it out. The goal, in each case, is to investigate particular ways in which these categories ultimately interact to produce a work of fantasy. By crisscrossing the literary and artistic landscape, then, from multiple directions, this set of essays provides a beginning to the theoretical study of a complex and elusive mode.

Bracketing the essays in this volume are two highly personal statements about the nature of fantasy which are diametrically opposed in their approaches: Harold Bloom's intense analysis of a single work, Lindsay Voyage to Arcturus; and Gary Kern's wide-ranging "search" for a fantasy constant in disparate areas of literature across the ages. The other essays offer a mixture of theoretical stances on a sliding scale between these two poles. It is hoped that in this counterpoint of methods--with the focus on single works, periods, or national traditions constantly set against more general attempts to ground fantasy in Jung-

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