Language and Control in Children's Literature

By Murray Knowles; Kirsten Malmkjær | Go to book overview

6

Fantasy fiction

INTRODUCTION

In chapter 5 above, we suggested that literary fairytales tend, in general, to conform fairly closely to the constraints which guide realist fiction. The fairytale remains within one time, one space and one world, and tells its story largely in chronological order. The fictional world of the fairytale is infused with magic, but, once this is accepted, everything proceeds in a recognisably natural manner.

Fantasy fiction, too, may incorporate a magical element, but when it does, the magical element, far from being assumed, is fantastic relative to the realistic aspects of the work: ‘A fantasy is a story based on and controlled by an overt violation of what is generally accepted as a possibility’ (Irwin, 1976:ix), even within the confines of the story. In Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia there are many mentions of the special nature of the other world, for example that it allows for ‘the sort of thing that would have been quite impossible in our world’ (1956/1990:163). In particular, there are several instances of overt explanation of how people can disappear into the other world without losing any time of their own. For example, the Professor explains that if Lucy has been in the other world, he would ‘not be at all surprised to find that the other world has a time of its own; so that however long you stayed there it would never take up any of our time’ (1950/1988:48). Formally speaking,

literary fantasies have appeared to be ‘free’ from many of the conventions and restraints of more realistic texts: they have refused to observe unities of time, space and character, doing away with chronology, three-dimensionality and with rigid distinctions between animate and inanimate objects, self and other, life and death.

(Jackson, 1981:1-2)

-224-

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Language and Control in Children's Literature
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgements xi
  • 1 - Children’s Literature in England 1
  • 2 - Literature as a Carrier of Ideology: Children’s Literature and Control 41
  • 3 - Traditional Juvenile Fiction 81
  • 4 - Today’s Young Reader 114
  • 5 - The Fairytale 156
  • 6 - Fantasy Fiction 224
  • 7 - Last Thoughts 262
  • References 267
  • Index 276
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