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The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature

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Fantasy is a creation of the Enlightenment, and the recognition that excitement and wonder can be found in imagining impossible things. From the ghost stories of the Gothic to the zombies and vampires of twenty-first-century popular literature, from Mrs Radcliffe to Ms Rowling, the fantastic has been popular with readers. Since Tolkien and his many imitators, however, it h Fantasy is a creation of the Enlightenment, and the recognition that excitement and wonder can be found in imagining impossible things. From the ghost stories of the Gothic to the zombies and vampires of twenty-first-century popular literature, from Mrs Radcliffe to Ms Rowling, the fantastic has been popular with readers. Since Tolkien and his many imitators, however, it has become a major publishing phenomenon. In this volume, critics and authors of fantasy look at its history since the Enlightenment, introduce readers to some of the different codes for the reading and understanding of fantasy, and examine some of the many varieties and subgenres of fantasy; from magical realism at the more literary end of the genre, to paranormal romance at the more popular end. The book is edited by the same pair who produced The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction (winner of a Hugo Award in 2005).


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Fantasy is a creation of the Enlightenment, and the recognition that excitement and wonder can be found in imagining impossible things. From the ghost stories of the Gothic to the zombies and vampires of twenty-first-century popular literature, from Mrs Radcliffe to Ms Rowling, the fantastic has been popular with readers. Since Tolkien and his many imitators, however, it h Fantasy is a creation of the Enlightenment, and the recognition that excitement and wonder can be found in imagining impossible things. From the ghost stories of the Gothic to the zombies and vampires of twenty-first-century popular literature, from Mrs Radcliffe to Ms Rowling, the fantastic has been popular with readers. Since Tolkien and his many imitators, however, it has become a major publishing phenomenon. In this volume, critics and authors of fantasy look at its history since the Enlightenment, introduce readers to some of the different codes for the reading and understanding of fantasy, and examine some of the many varieties and subgenres of fantasy; from magical realism at the more literary end of the genre, to paranormal romance at the more popular end. The book is edited by the same pair who produced The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction (winner of a Hugo Award in 2005).

30 review for The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mladen

    One would expect more from a publication like this one. However, a lot of essays simply summarize the topic(s), provide relevant authors/titles and retell the stories. The book is divided into 3 sections; the first two are actually interesting - the texts written by Brian Attebery, Edward James, Adam Roberts, Gary Wolfe and Andrew Butler stand out in the crowd - as is expected from them (their texts, generally, are always well written, analytical and provide interesting and relevant information One would expect more from a publication like this one. However, a lot of essays simply summarize the topic(s), provide relevant authors/titles and retell the stories. The book is divided into 3 sections; the first two are actually interesting - the texts written by Brian Attebery, Edward James, Adam Roberts, Gary Wolfe and Andrew Butler stand out in the crowd - as is expected from them (their texts, generally, are always well written, analytical and provide interesting and relevant information and significant insights into the matter). Jim Casey wrote a fine piece about postmodern fantasy, as well as Bould and Vint about politics. The texts written by the above authors make this book worth reading. Others, I'm afraid, seem to be written only to provide something written about the topic, sometimes wandering off into strange fields (e.g. I could never say that Earthsea is children's fantasy. YA yes, interesting to adults who read between the lines, but children's?!?!?)

  2. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    As with most entries in the Cambridge Companion series, the good is good and the mediocre is mediocre. Parts I & III are substantially stronger than Part II. Standout essays are "Tolkien, Lewis, and the Explosion of Genre Fantasy," "Quest Fantasies," and "Modern Children's Fantasy." Essays that are "meh" are "Writers of Colour," "Psychoanalysis," and "Dark Fantasy and Paranormal Romance." My main criticism of these is that they are basically just a survey of literature without a good argument abo As with most entries in the Cambridge Companion series, the good is good and the mediocre is mediocre. Parts I & III are substantially stronger than Part II. Standout essays are "Tolkien, Lewis, and the Explosion of Genre Fantasy," "Quest Fantasies," and "Modern Children's Fantasy." Essays that are "meh" are "Writers of Colour," "Psychoanalysis," and "Dark Fantasy and Paranormal Romance." My main criticism of these is that they are basically just a survey of literature without a good argument about them. It is as if to say, "This type of literature is manifested in these works: X, Y, Z. Here's how they go, and here's how they end. Here's a nearly stereotypical academic assessment of the work or author." In my opinion, the good in the book outweighs the bad, and it is worth reading for the fantasy fan.

  3. 5 out of 5

    A.J. Carlisle

    An Author’s Journey: The “Many-Terraced Houses” of Fantasy, 2: Book Review of James & Mendlesohn’s “The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature” (published on 1/25/15 @ https://ajcarlisle.wordpress.com/2015... Good Morning, Everyone! On a recent return flight from NYC, I had the pleasure of finishing The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature (edited by Edward James & Farah Mendlesohn, 2008). I’ve been arguing in these blogs for a couple of years that the epic (or “high”) fantasy market needs An Author’s Journey: The “Many-Terraced Houses” of Fantasy, 2: Book Review of James & Mendlesohn’s “The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature” (published on 1/25/15 @ https://ajcarlisle.wordpress.com/2015... Good Morning, Everyone! On a recent return flight from NYC, I had the pleasure of finishing The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature (edited by Edward James & Farah Mendlesohn, 2008). I’ve been arguing in these blogs for a couple of years that the epic (or “high”) fantasy market needs a “reboot,” and it my heart good to see an academic approach to the entirety of the subject, especially in such a concise book, whose articles run the gamut of the origins of modern fantasy in the 17th Century to works that reach well into the 21st. James and Mendlesohn even reach past a typical academic audience and find a way to popularize their material by making a three-legged stool of Fantasy Literature, investigating the subject via the themes of “History,” “Ways of Reading,” and “Clusters.” The first leg of this approach, the “historical assessments,” let the editors clear the brush of the many ancient or medieval examples that might have expanded this slim volume to twice its length. By stating that they’ll “ignore those earlier fictions about the fantastical — The Odyssey, Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Orlando Furioso, The Midsummer’s Night Dream and very many other texts…” — the reader immediately hits the early modern period running, with Gary K. Wolfe‘s essay, “Fantasy from Dryden to Sunsany.” Wolfe starts with an examination of the first instance of “fantasy criticism” — in Joseph Addison’s 1712 magazine The Spectator — to centuries of attempts to refine a definition of the subject include a host of literary luminaries (Samuel Taylor Coleridge, George MacDonald, Sir Walter Scott, the Brothers Grimm, through to William Morris and the Pre-Rapaelites. I was surprised to learn that even William Blake was an early contributor to what’s become a still-relevant debate in literary circles about the merits of Fantasy (when compared to traditional forms): [Begin Wolfe excerpt]: “In his 1810 ‘A Vision of the Last Judgment’, William Blake equated imagination with ‘Visionary Fancy’ and set this apart from fable or allegory, ‘a totally distinct & inferior kind of Poetry … Fable or Allegory is Form’d by the daughters of Memory, Imagination is surrounded by the daughters of Inspiration’. Blake’s distinction not only anticipates [Samuel Taylor] Coleridge (albeit with a different set of terms), but also anticipates a critical battle that authors of fantasy from George MacDonald to C.S. Lewis would wage: namely, that fantastic narratives are not necessarily allegories or fables.” [End Wolfe excerpt] Other authors and essays in Part I’s “Histories” section include: Adam Roberts, “Gothic and horror fiction”; Paul Kincaid, “American fantasy 1820-1950″; Maria Nikolajeva, “The development of children’s fantasy”; and Edward James, “Tolkien, Lewis and the explosion of genre fantasy.” The second leg of the book, “Ways of Reading,” offers a variety of ways to approach fantasy, many of which are grounded in modern literary studies (e.g., “Political Readings,” “Psychoanalysis,” “Modernism and Post-Modernism,” etc), but in this section I was struck by three essays: (1) Brian Attebery’s “Structuralism” (pp. 81-90), (2) Greer Gilman’s “The languages of the fantastic” (pp. 134-146) and (3) Kari Maund’s “Reading the fantasy series” (pp. 147-153) Just to cite one interesting example from this section: Brian Attebery‘s convincing argument that the “structuralist” 1960s/1970s critical mode of interpretation & analysis is particularly well-suited to the study of fantasy, because “…The very origins of the structural analysis of literature are tied to traditional fantastic genres such as fairy tale and myth, and the structuralist approaches remain useful as correctives to critical assumptions about the pre-eminence of realism as a literary mode.” Atterby takes the reader on a ride through the history of linguisitics on the way to making his point (works by Ferdinand de Saussure, Vladimir Propp, before assessing the works of Joseph Campbell and Claude Lévi-Strauss in relation to myth-making. I appreciated that Attebery criticized the works of both, but allowed for the areas where Campbell’s and Strauss’s research & methodology could be helpful in critiquing “Fantasy.” For example, here’s Attebery on Lévi-Strauss’s interpretation of the Oedipus story [where a Theban king tragically & unwittingly fulfills a prophecy that he’ll kill his father and marry his mother]: [Begin Attebery excerpt]: “… in his 1955 essay, ‘The Structural Study of Myth’…Lévi-Strauss claims to be working inductively, first identifying all the motifs within a particular myth – he focuses mostly on the story of Oedipus – and then grouping them into ‘bundles’ of relations. In practice, though, his groupings depend upon the particular binary oppositions that his previous structural studies have led him to expect. He innocently ‘finds’ in the Oedipus story just what he expected to find: oppositions such as life and death, kinship and strangerhood, human parentage and monsters born directly from the earth. Thus, ‘the myth has to do with the inability, for a culture which holds the belief that mankind is autochthonous [i.e., in mythology, the belief that people are born from the earth] … to find a satisfactory transition between this theory and the knowledge that human beings are actually born from the union of man and woman. ‘Furthermore, he finds these oppositions at all levels of the narrative, from names of characters to aspects of the setting of significant actions. The same message is given many times over, because ‘repetition has a as its function to make the structure of the myth apparent.’ ‘…Lévi-Strauss has been criticized for privileging the researcher over the culture-bearer: he seems to find meanings that no one within the society that tells the stories is conscious of. It is unlikely that oral storytellers in ancient Greece would have singled out the single meaning that Lévi-Strauss does. Certainly when Sophocles dramatized the story, his version did not invite the spectator to focus on autochthony as a key theme, nor do Aristotle or Freud emphasize it in their readings of the story. However peculiar this reading of Oedipus may be, Lévi-Strauss’s central insight that meaning, as well as narrative, might be structural, is a powerful tool for studying all kinds of literature and especially fantasy.” [End Atterby excerpt] Other authors and essays in Part II’s “Ways of Reading” include: Andrew M. Butler, “Psychoanalysis': Mark Bould and Sherryl Vint, “Political Readings”; Jim Casey, “Modernism and Postmodernism”; Farah Mendlesohn, “Thematic criticism”; Greer Gilman, “The languages of the fantastic”; Kari Maund, “Reading the fantasy series”; and Gregory Frost, “Reading the slipstream.” The third and final leg of this analytical seat upon which James and Mendlesohn situate their study on Fantasy is a section called “Clusters,” or a series of sub-genres that allow for broad coverage of the current spate of fantasy literature that don’t easily fit into categories (e.g., “magical realism,” “writers of colour,” “quest fantasies,” “urban fantasies,” “paranormal romances,” etc). Here, Sharon Sieber’s essay “Magical realism” (pp. 167-178) begins with a question of “What is realism?” and answers that most of the Western usually ties any interpretation of “reality” to scientific evidence and explanations; to begin the discussion, she uses Rosemary Jackson’s Fantasy: The Literature of Subversion as an inroad into discussing how modern fantasy reflects this generation’s understanding of the term: [Begin Jackson excerpt]: “As a literature of ‘unreality’ fantasy has altered in character over the years in accordance with changing notions of what exactly constitutes ‘reality’. Modern fantasy is rooted in ancient myth, mysticism, folklore, fairy tale and romance. The most obvious starting point for this study was the late eighteenth century —the point at which industrialization transformed western society.’ [End Jackson excerpt] Sieber gives a fine sketch of the current debate that surrounds this term, and then asks a great one of her own: [Begin Sieber excerpt]: “The question to ask here is why the magic of magical realism has become so important in twentieth- and twenty-first-century literature, particularly at a time when hard-line, linear scientific discoveries seem to diminish in importance and reality next to the fantastic discoveries such as Hugh Everett III regarding the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. This development was also taking root at just the time when the two literary movements which had become paradigms of the Western world, modernism and post-modernism, have affirmed the random nature of existence and events, twentieth-century alienation and fragmentation, assembly-line mass production, lack of free will and self-determination, identity disintegration, chaos, dysfunction and dystopia… [End Sieber excerpt] Other authors and essays in Part III’s “Clusters” section include: Nnedi Okorafor, “Writers of colour”; W.A. Senior, “Quest fantasies”; Alexander C. Irvine, “Urban fantasy”; Roz Kaveney, “Dark Fantasy and paranormal romance”; Catherine Butler, “Modern children’s fantasy”; Veronica Schanoes, “Historical fantasy”; and Graham Sleight, “Fantasies of history and religion.” For those who’d like to quickly catch-up on the latest interpretations of the Fantasy genre, I heartily recommend The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature. Edward Jones and Farah Mendlesohn have done a remarkable job in distilling centuries’ worth of thoughts and ideas about the subject into a well-organized, accessible, and immensely readable volume. The book is a welcome contribution to both academic and popular studies on fantasy literature. Thanks for visiting, and have a great week! A.J.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Madison Hogg

    A mixed bag. Some really excellent essays, some good but odd choices for this companion, some poor.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Arka

    Quite heavy reading. Extremely informative and well researched as is expected of a Cambridge Companion. However there is some confusion regarding Urban fantasy and paranormal romance.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bookshire Cat

    Vyborna kniha! Nemohly by vsechny akademicke texty byt napsane tak srozumitelne a ctive, Jezisku? Varovani ministerstva zdravotnictvi: cteni teto knihy zpusobuje znacne nafouknuti to-read listu.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    Viewed as a whole, this is a well-organized, informative, and varied collection of essays on English-language fantasy literature from the late seventeenth century to today, with a particular emphasis on modern and contemporary fantasy. The division into three sections - "Histories" (what you'd expect), "Ways of Reading" (fantasy seen through a number of different critical lenses), and "Clusters" (groups of texts) - works well, and the book covers a lot of material without becoming overwhelming. A Viewed as a whole, this is a well-organized, informative, and varied collection of essays on English-language fantasy literature from the late seventeenth century to today, with a particular emphasis on modern and contemporary fantasy. The division into three sections - "Histories" (what you'd expect), "Ways of Reading" (fantasy seen through a number of different critical lenses), and "Clusters" (groups of texts) - works well, and the book covers a lot of material without becoming overwhelming. At the level of individual essays, though, the variety of this collection has its downside: some of the essays are simply not as good as the others. The "Histories" section is fairly consistent: its weak point is the chapter on children's fantasy, which reads as if Maria Nikolajeva really wanted to contribute an analysis of tropes and themes rather than an account of her topic's development. "Ways of Reading" is patchier, no doubt due at least in part to the challenge of some of its subject-matter: Brian Atterbery on structuralism and Farah Mendlesohn on thematic criticism are clear and accessible, and Greer Gilman's unconventional approach to the languages of the fantastic starts off irritating but becomes surprisingly effective; whereas Kari Mund on reading the fantasy series seems perfunctory, and Andrew M. Butler's essay on psychoanalysis is a chunk of impressively learned babble that did nothing to mediate a difficult topic for me. These ups and down become more pronounced in the final, "Clusters", section. W.A. Senior's chapter on quest fantasies and Sharon Sieber's essay on magical realism are contrasting lows: the former little more than a collection of yawn-inducing plot summaries that have put me off reading or re-reading all of the series concerned; and the latter so poorly-organized that its paragraphs, perhaps even its constituent sentences, could be swapped around at random with little deleterious effect on the coherence of the whole. Alexander C. Irvine on urban fantasy, amongst others, is much better. In short, a useful book let down not by the breadth of knowledge of its contributors, which is evident throughout, nor by the depth of their insights (although I think the value of having fantasy writers include critiques of their own work in their chapters, as happens several times here, is questionable) but by the varying quality of the individual chapters.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Guadalupe Battilana

    Presenta un panorama actualizado y variado de los estudios sobre el género, que realmente vale la pena leer. El fuerte de este libro son las partes I y II, el panorama histórico y teórico de la fantasía (respectivamente), en donde además de un trabajo bastante exhaustivo se nota que los autores están escribiendo informados de lo que trabajaron los demás colegas en los capítulos aledaños, lo que ayuda a mantener una cohesión que se agradece mucho. En suma, esos primeros 13 capítulos componen un l Presenta un panorama actualizado y variado de los estudios sobre el género, que realmente vale la pena leer. El fuerte de este libro son las partes I y II, el panorama histórico y teórico de la fantasía (respectivamente), en donde además de un trabajo bastante exhaustivo se nota que los autores están escribiendo informados de lo que trabajaron los demás colegas en los capítulos aledaños, lo que ayuda a mantener una cohesión que se agradece mucho. En suma, esos primeros 13 capítulos componen un libro que venía esperando leer hace bastante rato. Este cuidado decae sobre la tercera parte, una serie de ensayitos sobre subgéneros, que resulta mucho más irregular. De éstos, el mejor sin dudas es el de Nnedi Okorafor, "Writers of colour" (aunque peque de autorreferencial de vez en cuando), y le sigue "Modern children's fantasy" de Catherine Butler, que presentan perspectivas interesantes sobre los problemas que trabajan y algunas líneas de lectura útiles. El peor es el de W. A. Senior, "Quest fantasies" (lo peor del libro, roza lo ilegible), una mera lista de argumentos a la que no se le cae una idea, y que de paso no se priva de spoilear el final de una decena de novelas (y el de una saga entera). Los otros son correctos, pero un tanto desconectados, al punto de que una misma novela aparece en tres categorías subgenéricas distintas y los autores de esta tercera parte no parecen enterarse como para problematizarlo o discutirlo. Me llevo muchos conceptos útiles, muchos problemas para pensar y una lista de futuras lecturas para rato. Recomiendo.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Patrick

    Wow, leave it to a bunch of academics to make fantasy literature boring! I can't see how this book would really be very useful as an introduction to the field to lit. majors, and it certainly wasn't interesting to someone who just wanted to dig in a little to the meaning and potential in fantasy literature. Almost every chapter referenced John Clute's The Encyclopedia of Fantasy, so maybe that's the book to read. Maybe. Wow, leave it to a bunch of academics to make fantasy literature boring! I can't see how this book would really be very useful as an introduction to the field to lit. majors, and it certainly wasn't interesting to someone who just wanted to dig in a little to the meaning and potential in fantasy literature. Almost every chapter referenced John Clute's The Encyclopedia of Fantasy, so maybe that's the book to read. Maybe.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sissel

    Not all essays in this collection were relevant for my thesis, but I skimmed the ones that weren't and I thought the quality of the collection was very good. My favorite ones were: "The Development of Children's Fantasy" by Maria Nikolajeva "Writers of Colour" by Nedi Okorafor (a pleasant surprise, because I did not know that she was included in this collection) "Modern Children's Fantasy" by Catherine Butler Not all essays in this collection were relevant for my thesis, but I skimmed the ones that weren't and I thought the quality of the collection was very good. My favorite ones were: "The Development of Children's Fantasy" by Maria Nikolajeva "Writers of Colour" by Nedi Okorafor (a pleasant surprise, because I did not know that she was included in this collection) "Modern Children's Fantasy" by Catherine Butler

  11. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    A really interesting mix of essays and I appreciated the historical tour at the beginning of this one far more than the one in the CC to SF. I also loved appreciated the theoretical surveys, although I found the genre ones less...interesting. And, of course, I got some good book recs out of it.

  12. 4 out of 5

    A.

    Some of this was interesting, some of it was less than interesting.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    A good and thorough collection of essays on a wide range of types of fantasy literature. The essays are both academic and readable - not always achieved in this kind of collection.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Cathy Wang

    My first and best academic book in English

  15. 5 out of 5

    Morgan Kail-Ackerman

    These series of essays were quite helpful in thinking and analyzing fantasy literature. I took a lot of notes and feel like I have a clearer understanding of this kind of genre.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Dylan

    Several essays from The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature was assigned as recommended reading when I took a class on Fantasy and Horror Literature. I enjoyed the assigned essays and finally finished reading all the other essays in the companion. I enjoyed the structure and variety of this collection. It is divided into three sections: the first regards the history of the genre; the second explores critical and theoretical approaches to the genre; and the third and final considers specific Several essays from The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature was assigned as recommended reading when I took a class on Fantasy and Horror Literature. I enjoyed the assigned essays and finally finished reading all the other essays in the companion. I enjoyed the structure and variety of this collection. It is divided into three sections: the first regards the history of the genre; the second explores critical and theoretical approaches to the genre; and the third and final considers specific aspects of the genre. I recommend this collection to anyone interested in understanding the function of the fantasy genre or exploring specific subgenres. One of the best things about reading these collections is that they often discuss a wide range of literature and provide a variety of viewpoints. As a result, you`re likely to discover many other new texts to read based on the analysis found within the companion. This serves as a great introduction to a study of fantasy literature in its many guises. The only complaint I have pertains to a few essays: there was at least one that was more artistic than informative/argumentative - it almost read like propaganda; there were a few others that consisted almost entirely of plot summary, which was disappointing, because they could have developed their ideas further. 3.5/5

  17. 5 out of 5

    Nicholas Whyte

    http://nwhyte.livejournal.com/2125825.html[return][return]an excellent set of essays on various aspects of the fantasy literature, with a very strong historical introduction (apart from a bizarre chapter on children's fantasy), a middle section on various literary approaches to the genre, and a concluding section on various subgenres or "clusters", with a much better chapter on children's fantasy. When I read books like this I want i) a better understanding of books I have already read and ii) s http://nwhyte.livejournal.com/2125825.html[return][return]an excellent set of essays on various aspects of the fantasy literature, with a very strong historical introduction (apart from a bizarre chapter on children's fantasy), a middle section on various literary approaches to the genre, and a concluding section on various subgenres or "clusters", with a much better chapter on children's fantasy. When I read books like this I want i) a better understanding of books I have already read and ii) suggestions of books I might read in the future which may appeal to me, and I was fully satisfied on both points. In particular I note that many chapters referenced Rosemary Jackson's Fantasy: The Literature of Subversion, which I must now look out for. (Other individuals with more than ten references in the index: King Arthur, Jorge Luis Borges, John Clute, Sigmund Freud, Neil Gaiman, Alan Garner, Elizabeth Hand, E.T.A. Hoffmann, Ursula K. Le Guin, C.S. Lewis, H.P. Lovecraft, George MacDonald, Farah Mendlesohn, China Mi�ville, Edgar Allan Poe, Philip Pullman, and way in the lead J.R.R. Tolkien.) Strongly recommended.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    I learned a lot of good stuff here. But I think more than anything, I got to add a huge number of potential reads to my list. The history section was interesting. A lot of the literary criticism flew way over my head, and I'm sure a re-read would help me out greatly there but I probably won't do it. The most interesting section to me was the one that broke down many of the sub-genres of fantasy. It was in that section that many of the authors gave varied examples and many of them caught my attenti I learned a lot of good stuff here. But I think more than anything, I got to add a huge number of potential reads to my list. The history section was interesting. A lot of the literary criticism flew way over my head, and I'm sure a re-read would help me out greatly there but I probably won't do it. The most interesting section to me was the one that broke down many of the sub-genres of fantasy. It was in that section that many of the authors gave varied examples and many of them caught my attention. I've already read Who Fears Death based on an essay written by its author. It was great, by the way. Anyway, I wouldn't recommend this book to just anyone. It is full of some pretty dry material, but if you are a big fantasy fan that wants to know more about the genre, it's worth checking out.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    An extremely interesting and thought-provoking collection of essays on various aspects of fantasy literature, this book was very entertaining, if not always entirely accessible to the average reader. I particularly enjoyed the chapters on urban fantasy and dark fantasy, and also on ways of approaching and reading fantasy. In particular, the essay on slipstream reading (Gregory Frost) was fascinating. As with any "textbook" type of non-fiction reading, there were areas of thought with which I did An extremely interesting and thought-provoking collection of essays on various aspects of fantasy literature, this book was very entertaining, if not always entirely accessible to the average reader. I particularly enjoyed the chapters on urban fantasy and dark fantasy, and also on ways of approaching and reading fantasy. In particular, the essay on slipstream reading (Gregory Frost) was fascinating. As with any "textbook" type of non-fiction reading, there were areas of thought with which I didn't entirely agree, but there were also many thought-provoking ideas presented. All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable read.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Shiloh

    Like most of the Cambridge Companions, this is a good starting point for studying various aspects of fantasy literature. It's not comprehensive, and some of the essays have issues--one is more "artistic" than informative; one spends a great deal of time summarizing the plots of a series of novels used as an example--but for someone looking for an overview and/or an introduction to fantasy or fantasy scholarship, this book can be quite helpful. Like most of the Cambridge Companions, this is a good starting point for studying various aspects of fantasy literature. It's not comprehensive, and some of the essays have issues--one is more "artistic" than informative; one spends a great deal of time summarizing the plots of a series of novels used as an example--but for someone looking for an overview and/or an introduction to fantasy or fantasy scholarship, this book can be quite helpful.

  21. 5 out of 5

    verbava

    не зовсім однорідний том: якісь статті розкішно поєднують теорію з історією чи художніми текстами (моя улюблена - про міське фентезі), якісь зводяться до простого переказу сюжетів чи розповідей про підходи ("психоаналіз і фентезі" - то кільканадцять сторінок про психоаналіз і кілька згадок на кшталт "от фентезі, воно типу теж архетипове"). але, мабуть, це якраз і є доволі адекватний на сьогодні зріз наукової роботи з жанром. не зовсім однорідний том: якісь статті розкішно поєднують теорію з історією чи художніми текстами (моя улюблена - про міське фентезі), якісь зводяться до простого переказу сюжетів чи розповідей про підходи ("психоаналіз і фентезі" - то кільканадцять сторінок про психоаналіз і кілька згадок на кшталт "от фентезі, воно типу теж архетипове"). але, мабуть, це якраз і є доволі адекватний на сьогодні зріз наукової роботи з жанром.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kate O'Hanlon

    An excellent collection for the most part. I especially enjoyed Roz Kavney's essay and Dark Fantasy and Paranormal Romance, and Catherine Butler's on Children's Lit. I will have to return to some of the more technical essays when I have more time on my hands. I did notice some sloppy factual errors, which was disappointing. An excellent collection for the most part. I especially enjoyed Roz Kavney's essay and Dark Fantasy and Paranormal Romance, and Catherine Butler's on Children's Lit. I will have to return to some of the more technical essays when I have more time on my hands. I did notice some sloppy factual errors, which was disappointing.

  23. 4 out of 5

    univocity

    Rated for Gilman's "The Languages of the Fantastic," which is in style and content very similar to-- and nearly as good as-- the best essays of Guy Davenport. (Whom I had previously thought was inimitable.) Rated for Gilman's "The Languages of the Fantastic," which is in style and content very similar to-- and nearly as good as-- the best essays of Guy Davenport. (Whom I had previously thought was inimitable.)

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Good reference to rich tradition of fantasy, Read piecemeal, or through. Semiological, Marxist, Structuralist, Post-structuralist, Genre Studies of too-maligned genre.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn

  26. 5 out of 5

    Judy

  27. 5 out of 5

    Patricia

  28. 4 out of 5

    Becky Jones

  29. 5 out of 5

    Steve Westenra

  30. 4 out of 5

    John Jemar

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