The Comedy of the Fantastic: Ecological Perspectives on the Fantasy Novel

The Comedy of the Fantastic: Ecological Perspectives on the Fantasy Novel

The Comedy of the Fantastic: Ecological Perspectives on the Fantasy Novel

The Comedy of the Fantastic: Ecological Perspectives on the Fantasy Novel

Synopsis

"Elgin's book is extremely interesting, almost always well argued, and yet not always convincing.... Nonetheless, this book is well done and is recommended for academic and public libraries." - Choice

Excerpt

As Frodo Baggins leaves home on that fateful journey to the Mountain of Doom, he remembers and quotes a song which Bilbo had made up many years before, a song about the roads that go ever on until they return at last to the familiar things they have always known. Contained in those simple words is, I think, a truth which applies to far more than a group of hobbits in the Third Age of Middle Earth. It applies to both literature and people's perception of themselves in relation to the world, for humanity, its literature, and its perception of its relationship to the universe have followed a pattern similar to that outlined in the song. the road began with rituals of hunting and gathering, with celebrations of life and rebirth. It proceeded to agricultural society, to civilization, to philosophy and literature, where it promptly took a new turn, at least in western society. That new turn consisted of a rejection of the past and a division of philosophy and literature into two broad categories, the comic and the tragic, with the tragic quickly being elevated to a superior position because of its basic presuppositions about the nature of the human being who created it and because of its effect on the physical world which it in turn created. Throughout the journey literature has continued to predict and to create as well as to catalogue what people have been about. But in the last one hundred years, writers have begun to turn, often feebly and unwillingly, back to what they knew originally. That is-- in short--what this book is all about. It is about one phase of that turning, the development of the fantasy novel as a major alternative to the forms and philosophies of the novel which had developed to that point. It is about the development of the idea of ecology and the . . .

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