Tolkien and Fantasy „There is no market for fantasy.‟ -- U.S Publisher to an aspiring author in the 1950‟s The Romance Presents life as we would have it be–more picturesque, fantastic, adventurous, or heroic than actuality. Realism “Realistic fiction is written to give the effect that it represents life and the social world as it seems to the common reader, evoking the sense that its characters might in fact exist, and that such things might well happen.” Realism The subject matter of Realism must be fairly limited. It tends to prefer commonplace, and everyday material, represented in minute detail. “His work is so outstanding and his influence so conspicuous that his name stands first: Tolkien and twentieth-century fantasy, like Shakespeare and Elizabethan drama.” (Deborah Webster Rogers) Fantasy Any narrative that is disengaged from reality. Often such [stories] are set in nonexistent worlds, such as under the earth, in a fairyland, on the moon. The characters in fantasy are often something other than human or include non-human characters. Some Characteristics of Fantasy • Is often set in the past before recorded history begins or at some time that cannot be put into a definite relationship with real time but resembles past eras of history; or • contains persons or other creatures that have been the subject of myths or legends; or Some Characteristics of Fantasy • involves marvellous events of which no scientific explanation is given or perhaps seems possible; or • involves magic. (Richard L. Purtill J.R.R. Tolkien: Myth, Morality and Religion 33). Fantasy & Science Fiction Fantasy can be distinguished from science fiction in that the latter, though it may have a strange world similar, or vastly different from our own, its laws are explained by science and technology (whether real or imagined). Fantasy & Science Fiction “Fantasy deals with things that are not and cannot be. Science fiction deals with things that can be, that some day may be.” (M. H. Abrams) Tolkien on Fantasy Fantasy is “the making or glimpsing of Other worlds” (i.e., worlds made up by the author) (“On Fairy Stories”). Tolkien on Fantasy The fantasy writer creates a Secondary World which the reader‟s mind can enter. “Inside it, what he relates is „true‟: it accords with the laws of that world”. Thus the writer creates Secondary Belief. Tolkien on Fantasy: Fantasy, when well achieved, should have “a quality of strangeness and wonder in the Expression”, yet an author must be able to give to his or her “ideal creation the inner consistency of reality”. (“On Fairy Stories”) Tolkien on Fantasy Faërie (the “perilous and “magical” realm of fantasy) “contains many things besides elves and fays, and besides dwarfs, witches, trolls, giants, or dragons: it holds the seas, the sun, the moon, the sky; and the earth, and all things that are in it: tree and bird, water and stone, wine and bread, and ourselves, mortal men.” (“On Fairy Stories”) Tolkien on Magic in Fantasy His fantasy‟s magic, “is a magic of a peculiar mood and power, at the furthest pole from the vulgar devices of the laborious, scientific magician. . [whose] desire is power in this world, domination of things and wills”. It is more the magic of enchantment. Sub-creation “We make still by the law in which we‟re made.” (“On Fairy Stories”) Sub-creation “The making of things is in my heart from my own making by Thee” (Aule in The Ainulindale). Recovery, Escape and Consolation Recovery, Escape and Consolation Tolkien believed that fairy-stories are valuable because they help us overcome an imaginative poverty he saw behind his contemporaries‟ failure to respond to the mythological vision of works like Beowulf. Recovery Too much of our life and our art, Tolkien complains, is like “play under a glass roof by the side of a municipal swimming-bath, forgetful of heaven and the sea.” (“On Fairy Stories”) Recovery “We need to clean our windows; so that the things seen clearly may be freed from the drab blur of triteness or familiarity”. (“On Fairy Stories”) Recovery Tolkien believed “Fairy stories let us see or discover the world as we originally were meant to see it. We are left to imagine that the stupidity, barbarity, squalor, and horror of the war drove a sensitive young imagination toward the conviction that he was seeing the very opposite of life as it was meant to be seen” (Roger Sale). Escape “Why should a man be scorned, if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Of if, when he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison-walls?” (“On Fairy Stories”) Escape “The world outside has not become less real because the prisoner cannot see it… “The critics who accuse fantasy of being escapist have chosen the wrong word, and, . . . are confusing „The Escape of the Prisoner‟ with „The Flight of the Deserter‟….” (“On Fairy Stories”) Consolation “Fairy tales offer consolation from this world‟s suffering through tapping into desires we have, such as the desire to visit far off places, . . .to survey the depths of space and time. Another is … to hold communion with living things.” (“On Fairy Stories”) Consolation The main consolation is seen in all fairy tales: It is the happy ending. Tolkien calls this the “Eucatastrophe”. When we experience a Eucatastrophe, we feel a deep, piercing joy with a turn from sorrow to happiness. Consolation “„Eucatastrophe‟ : the sudden happy turn in a story which pierces you with a joy that brings tears (which I argued it is the highest function of fairy-stories to produce). . . . it is a sudden glimpse of Truth, your whole nature chained in material cause and effect, the chain of death, feels a sudden relief as if a major limb out of joint had suddenly snapped back.” (Tolkien, Letters) Consolation The gospels, according to Tolkien, are like a fairy story, artistic, yet true, not fictitious. The incarnation and resurrection are both Eucatastrophes. “The poetry of the mythic imagination makes the ability to perceive truth possible, putting imaginatively starved modern man back once again into awed and reverent contact with a living universe” (Randel Helms).
Pages to are hidden for
"Tolkien and Fantasy"Please download to view full document