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Related: fantasy - literature


Although I recently stated that I only want to do appreciative criticism, I want to investigate why I don't like Tolkien and Lord of the Rings. I do like the fantastique and fantastic literature as defined by Todorov.

On a sidenote I've noticed that people who like Tolkien also like Harry Potter for which I have very little enthusiasm. Again, why?

Googling for Todorov (who is the leading authority on the fantastique) in combination with Tolkien brings up this:

Key critics such as Rosemary Jackson, Christine Brooke-Rose, and Tzvetan Todorov all see Tolkien as beyond their parameters. Jackson's work is largely concerned with fantasy elements within realist literature, while Todorov and Brooke-Rose see Tolkien as a creator of secondary worlds, no longer a fantasy writer, but a creator of the marvellous, placing him outside their studies. --Sara Upstone via http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0OON/is_4_23/ai_99848429

The keyword is marvelous, which according to Todorov does not belong in the fantastic/que category.

And googling for Tolkien and irrealism brings the Cafe Irreal:

[J].R.R. Tolkien, who not only had to create a whole new world from scratch, but one which he could only visit in his imagination. And yet Tolkien (and the various other genre fantasy and science-fiction writers) are not irreal writers. For, having imagined a new world, a Tolkien proceeds to make it so real and concrete for us (by giving it laws, mythologies and governments) that we could visit it, if it existed, like we would visit an exotic island -- surprised by the customs of the people and the creatures that inhabit its jungles, but feeling very much as if we were in the category of the real. Like the realist writer, he tries to concretize the unreal. --G.S. Evans in IRREALISM AND THE DREAM-STATE via http://home.sprynet.com/~awhit/tirr_dre.htm [Nov 2006]

The key phrase in this little investigation is "Having imagined a new world, Tolkien proceeds to make it so real and concrete for us, ... making it very much as if we were in the category of the real. Like the realist writer, he tries to concretize the unreal." By doing so he takes out all the ambiguity, ambivalence, unresolvedness, unreliability and uncertainty that makes the fantastique what I find so attractive in it.

In the words of Jan Beardsly commenting on Todorov:

Todorov distinguishes the fantastic from two other modes, the uncanny and the marvelous. While these modes have some of the ambiguity of the fantastic, they ultimately offer a resolution governed by natural laws (the uncanny) or the supernatural (the marvelous). --Jan Bardsley via http://www.unc.edu/~bardsley/ghosts/todorov.html

A final quote on uncertainty by Todorov:

"The fantastic occupies the duration of this uncertainty....The fantastic is that hesitation experienced by a person who knows only the laws of nature, confronting an apparently supernatural event" (p. 25).

See also: realism - reality

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