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A History of Fantasy Question

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A History of Fantasy Question

Old 02-10-04, 01:47 AM
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A History of Fantasy Question

I think I would like to write somewhere in this genre and am very interested if there is any literature on the progression and history of fantasy: what is was and what the contemporary fantasy is. Sorta like a timeline/analysis of fantasy/mythology. Could anyone recommend any such books to me.

Thanks.
Old 02-10-04, 07:26 AM
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Not too sure about any books containing an actual history of the genre, but for some interesting 19th century works, I'd strongly recommend George MacDonald -- strong influence on Tolkein and C.S. Lewis.

His great stuff includes "Phantastes", "Lilith", "The Princess and the Goblins", "The Princess and Curdie", and "The Golden Key" -- not to mention some really excellent short story collections. His stories range from classic fantasy (elves, goblins, changelings) to some darker, more macabre stuff (werewolves, vampires, body snatchers, etc).

He wrote around the 1860s to 1880s IIRC. Before that, I'd say most high fantasy was largely poetry/drama, but that may be overgeneralizing (Keats, Shakespeare, etc.).
Old 02-10-04, 08:43 AM
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Yeah, I don't know of any comprehensive history, but along with MacDonald, I'd add Lord Dunsany.

Dunsany was one of the harbingers of modern fantasy, along with William Morris and George MacDonald. A successful playwright, he once had five concurrent plays running on Broadway (Five Plays). He wrote over seventy books, many with a quill pen, others dictated to his wife, beginning in 1905 with The Gods of Pegana, and including the very readable memoirs Patches of Sunlight and While the Sirens Slept. In the words of the ardent admirer H.P. Lovecraft: "To the truly imaginative he is a talisman and a key unlocking rich storehouses of dream." Such magical tales as "Idle Days on the Yann" and "A Shop in Go-by Street" conjure idyllic realms of fantasy far away from the worries of the common world -- though they may well have troubles of their own.
Old 02-10-04, 08:43 AM
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There was a book released a few years ago that has tons of short stories in chronological order that shows the progression of the fantasy tale. I can't think of the title or editor off the top of my head, but the cover is a rusty brown color with a devil in the center.

It'll come to me in time....
Old 03-02-06, 01:22 PM
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Old 03-02-06, 02:14 PM
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Originally Posted by beckham
I think I would like to write somewhere in this genre and am very interested if there is any literature on the progression and history of fantasy: what is was and what the contemporary fantasy is. Sorta like a timeline/analysis of fantasy/mythology. Could anyone recommend any such books to me.

Thanks.
Not a book, but this can give you some ideas: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_fantasy
Old 03-03-06, 11:55 AM
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Offhand, I'd say you have to start with William Morris. He was the first person to invent a fictional world. Before that, characters went to strange places on Earth, or to the Moon, or to Fairyland to see fantastic things. But they were always grounded in the here-and-now. Morris invented the stand-alone world that had no relationship to our world.

Other early fantasists worth reading are E.R. Eddison and James Branch Cabell. Modern fantasy is always compared to Tolkein. When the Lord of the Rings was published, it was compared to The Worm Oroboros by Eddison.

As part of your research, you should read Supernatural Horror in Literature by Lovecraft. There's a lot of overlap between fantasy and horror.
Old 03-03-06, 11:57 AM
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Doh! I just noticed that this was a bumped thread. I don't think beckham is going to read my excellent response.

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