Fantastic Literature

A Critical Reader

by David Sandner


Culls together important criticism of fantastic literature from Plato and Aristotle to present critics.

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June 2004


Pages 376
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics The Arts/General
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Unprecedented in range and scope, this volume serves as a record of and reference for the development of fantasy literature. Working to be inclusive, rather than exclusive, opening a dialogue wherever possible, Sandner presents the full range of debates concerning the fantastic and its relationship to the sublime, the Gothic, children's literature, romance and comedy, and the purposes of imaginative literature. Introductions to each essay, presented in full or excerpted for the most relevant commentary, situate the reader in the history of fantasy literature and the criticism it has inspired.

New and important here are the claims for the early development of fantasy literature from the 18th century sublime. Previous histories of the genre regard Romanticism as a limit, but this reader draws from 18th, 19th, 20th, and even 21st century texts, revealing the unimagined scope of the field and developing a map of its early history for the first time. This important new volume presents, ultimately, the development of critical debates about the fantastic and its relationship to literature generally.

Table of Contents

IntroductionPhaedrus (388-366 B.C.E.), PlatoThe Poetics (33-323 B.C.E.), AristotleAn Apology for Poetry (1595), Philip Sidney"The Fairy Way of Writing" (1712), Joseph AddisonLetters on Chivalry and Romance (1762), Richard HurdOn The Pleasure Derived from Objects of Terror (1773), Anna Laetitia Aikin (Barbauld)Letter (1797), and Biographia Literaria (1817), Samuel Taylor ColeridgeOn the Supernatural in Poetry (1826), Ann RadcliffeOn the Supernatural in Fictitious Composition (1827), Walter ScottFrauds on the Fairies (1853), Charles DickensFairy Stories (1868), John RuskinThe Fantastic Imagination (1890), George MacDonaldFairy Tales (1908), G. K. ChestersonThe Uncanny (1919), Sigmund FreudIntroduction to Supernatural Horror in Literature (1927), H. P. LovecraftCritics (1956), Damon KnightMythos of Summer: Romance (1957), Northrop FryeCharacteristics of Genre and Plot Composition in Dostoevsky's Works (1963) Mikhail BakhtinDefinitions of Territory: Fantasy (1970), Italo CalvinoThe Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre (1970), Tzvetan TodorovFrom Elfland to Poughkeepsie (1973), Ursula Le GuinIntroduction to Modern Fantasy (1975), Colin ManloveThe Fantastic and Fantasy (1976), Eric RabkinOn the Evolution of a Word (1979), Stephen PrickettMagical Narratives: The Dialectical Use of Genre Criticism (1981), Fredric JamesonThe Encounter with Fantasy (1982), Harold BloomLiterary Fantasy and Ecological Comedy (1985), Don D. Elgin"Fantasy" from Critical Terms for Science Fiction and Fantasy (1986), Gary WolfeNameless Things and Thingless Names (1987), Lance OlsenFantasy as Mode, Genre, Formula (1992), Brian AtteberyPhantasmagoria and the Metaphysics of Modern Reverie (1995), Terry Castle"Fantasy" from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997), John CluteJoseph Addison: First Critic of the Fantastic (2000), David SanderFabling to the Near Night (2000), Jane YolenIntroduction to Fantasy and Marxism (2002), China Mieville



[S]anders doesn't simply dig up excepts from mainstream criticism that can be applied to fantasy; he actually reverses the equation, demonstrating the significant role that fantastic literature has always played in the development of literary criticism itself.—SFRA Science Fiction Research Association

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