A Guide to Fantasy Literature Thoughts on Stories of Wonder and Enchantment

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Guiding The ImaginationDid your parents read you Grimm’s Fairy Tales when you were a child? Or perhaps they read you A A Milne’s Winnie The Pooh? Or did you yourself read Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland or J M Barrie’s Peter Pan or some other imaginative adventure? If so then you have a start in the ever expanding world of fantasy literature Philip Martin’s A Guide To Fantasy Literature will appeal to anyone who has an imagination who can put aside their “disbelief” as William Wordsworth wrote in his Preface to Lyric Ballads and allow a story to take them wherever it willMartin has peppered his book with uite lengthy uotes from the novels and this serves to very much wet the appetite of those who have not read much fantasy “That is interesting and what happens next?” we ask ourselvesThe general reader is also guided to see what to look for in a fantasy book or indeed any book We are encouraged for example to ask what is the character’s motivation and do they change through the book? Thinking about these uestions may at first seem a bit deep but they are things we ask ourselves about the people we know in ordinary life Thinking about books in this way can help us to see fantasy tales as than simply adventure stories to enjoy them even because they say things about ‘real’ lifeFor those who have read a lot of this genre there will be many moments of pleasurable recognition as old favourites are recalled to mind The seasoned reader may also come away from A Guide To Fantasy Literature liking the novels they have read even as Martin has a great knack of bringing out the subtle details and messages hidden by the authors in their storiesAs well as readers this book will very much appeal to those who want to write fantasy stories The first edition of this book was indeed published under the title The Writers Guide To Fantasy Literature Martin examines the nuts and bolts of the genre and his enthusiasm for the subject makes us think “I wonder if I could write fantasy?” Many of us do in fact have manuscripts hidden in the back of cupboards and this is just the book to encourage us to get them out and get to work on them again It is important to note though that this is not a ‘how to’ book with writing exercises designed to get you writing The new title is appropriate as this book really will appeal to a wide variety of readers but none the less would be authors will take a special interestMartin’s reading on the subject has been very wide and indeed covers everything from the little tales of Beatrix Potter to the writings of Jungian psychology analyst Joseph Campbell He uotes books as old as Homer’s Odyssey to as contemporary as Harry Potter The Guide also contains many uotes from the relevant literary criticism This may sound off putting however you certainly do not have to be a university graduate to understand and enjoy the book Martin has selected very clear uotations and his own text simply and clearly brings out the meaning in a way that is very easy to understand Reading the book is like listening to a widely read fan talking and indeed the Introduction makes clear that Martin is just that He has read fantasy novels since he was an excited boy Many fans of Lord Of The Rings for example know that its author Tolkien was a member of a writing club called The Inklings along with the other famous authors C S Lewis and Charles Williams but not so many know that one of the origins of the character Gandalf was a postcard bought during an Alpine trek in the author’s youth in 1911 which depicted “the ‘spirit of the mountain’ an old man with flowing beard broad brimmed hat and long cloak sitting on a rock under a pine” Chapter 2Martin has also included uotes from interviews which he himself carried out with several authors This material is new and uniue For example in Chapter 4 there is a uote from Martin’s interview of Peter Beagle where that author explains “I will literally walk around the room talking dialogue and description to myself I’m going for rhythm ” We get an interesting new insight into exactly how that author writesFor those who want to read on the subject of fantasy literature Martin has included a bibliography which is annotated; that is he gives you a very brief summary of what is in each bookVery much in brief the main topics covered by the book areAre these tales just empty fanciful entertainments or do they have a meaning applicable to the ‘real’ world?The history of fantasy from myth and epic narrative to modern classics like Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain seriesWhat exactly is fantasy and does it differ from science fiction?How do authors get their fantastic ideas?The five ‘types’ of fantasy high fantasy adventure fantasy fairy tale fiction magic realism and dark fantasyParticular techniues and elements such as meter repetition and magicThe importance of location and geographic description particularly in making the ‘unreal’ seem realTechniues of characterization and the representation of real human struggle with the aim of placing ‘real’ people in very ‘unusual’ circumstancesThe centrality of plot and why we keep turning the pageMartin’s A Guide To Fantasy Literature will appeal to a very wide audience ranging from the general reader who has not read much of the genre to university students doing a course in imaginative literature The book is not at all dull and is written by someone who clearly loves the subject and whose enthusiasm is catching Martin is very knowledgeable but does not write in an overly scholarly style His text is clear simple and approachable A really fascinating look into the history and nature of fantasy writing from the 19th century to present 2009 actually with many uotes from interviews conducted by the author with several well known fantasy authors No truly earth shaking revelations but then its not meant to be that kind of book But there are some good and useful insights and some points I myself have made in the past about Fantasy like Myth being about Truth and True Stories not Fact but Truth Very enjoyable and I would recommend it for any fans of fantasy including fantasy RPGs though the book does not specifically address RPGs in any way Compact book which details the basic ualities of the Fantasy genre in literature essentially a seuence of bite sized explanations and even smaller analysis' of long standing models in the genre Some fast descriptions of the core five stories Epic Adventure Dark each with specific novel examples and then some somewhat sizable inuiries into the structure of Fantasy What makes plot setting and character in a Fantasy novel different from other genres basicallyIt's not really all that much of a book; simply an introduction to making further studies into the Fantasy genre and that's just fine It's not an in depth literary analysis of the genre nor is this a How To Write Fantasy book; truly a blunt presentation of the core pillars of what makes Fantasy different from other genres and how those pillars have and continue to stand sturdyKnocking off a star because inevitably with a book like this you can't help but feel there should have been Whether a greater variety of examples or maybe an included bibliography for each Fantasy genre just something should some prodding of direction would have been appreciated for making a streamlined continuance into Fantasy studiesNo less simple book which will give you a grounded starting place to consider the Fantasy genre deeply Good place to start if you're interested Philip Martin has written a very good book explaining the elements of Fantasy Literature He breaks down the elements in seven chapters that are informative whether you are looking to better understand why fantasy books have become so popular in the last decade Harry Potter anyone? or if you are thinking about writing something yourself One of the things I liked best about this book was Mr Martin's use of resources including a lot of authors and their works He has obviously researched the subject well and it shows I'll be taking notes of the bibliography at the end since he brought to my attention several books I haven't read but should in the fantasy genre This little book is a good basic introduction to fantasy literature breaking the elements down for both those who want to understand it and for those who wish to write fantastic literature and for those like me who want to do both Lots of good uotes and Martin has his fantasy priorities straight referencing the Inklings and those who are of similar mindsets Lewis and Tolkien make freuent appearances but also Chesterton Dorothy Sayers Lloyd Alexander George MacDonald Madeleine L'Engle Ursula le Guin Brian Jacues Susan Cooper etc Most pleasant of all were the occasional cameos by Charles Williams and William Butler Yeats I don't know why I originally bought this book years ago But I just got around to reading it last week and it surprised me with insights about the world of writing fantasy literature This is a good short read for anyone interested in either writing fantasy or simply understanding the genre better Although this book is presented as a guide for readers of fantasy literature I recommend it for any writer who wants to create fantasy stories The book is small and deceptively simple but it presents core truths about fantasy literature in an enjoyable useful way A good brief look at what makes a fantasy tick However it does not introduce the controversy and complexity of what truly makes a fantasy The categories are the author's own and there are other ways of grouping out there and he makes seems so simplebut it isn't Rather short and introductory work Martin focuses onto several key words and explains basic themeselements of the fantasy genre but there isn't much of a literary theories in that

A Guide to Fantasy Literature Thoughts on Stories of
  • Paperback
  • 144 pages
  • A Guide to Fantasy Literature Thoughts on Stories of Wonder and Enchantment
  • Philip Martin
  • English
  • 02 October 2016
  • 9781933987040