Sunday, October 11, 2009

Much like everyone else on this board I too had a problem with Armitts book an introduction to fantasy fiction. I found the way she jumped back and forth between topics and rarely had a straightforward concrete definition of anything to be a bit annoying.

Before reading this book all my prior knowledge about fantasy fiction came from the books that I had read mostly as a pre-teen. Books like the Harry Potter series, Tamora Pierce and other books that one would find in the “young adult” section of a library. So perhaps my view of fantasy fiction is skewed since I am used to fantasy with dragons and magic and such things.

But my problem was mostly with her choices of example texts. The genera of fantasy has been around for ages and has produced many novels of varying scholarly worth. While some books most defiantly fit the profile of being stereotypically fantasy they don’t seem to merit much worth and will most likely be forgotten about within a few years. But still there are books that are clear in everyone’s mind as being a part of the fantasy genera. Books like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter the first thing that comes into your head is usually fantasy, and so yes, those are good choices to write about when writing an introduction to fantasy fiction book. Yet some the other choices such as Thomas Moors Utopia, I had never really thought of as a fantasy book, I had always just thought of it as a politically theory book like Machiavelli’s The Prince. Or even her choice of using H.G. Well’s The Time Machine and Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, novels I have previously only thought of as Sci-Fi.

It seems that she was looking for novels that would lend legitimacy to her theories, so she used books that were widely regarded by the literary world to be well-respected novels, but therein bends the definition of fantasy. I can see how you would want to avoid using books that may quickly become irrelevant in an introduction. Yet she overlooks well regarded novels that fit well the definition of Fantasy that don’t bleed into the genera of sci-fi such as Mitch Alboms The Five People You Meet in Heaven or a perfect example of magic realism Garbiel Garcia Marque’s One Hundred Years of Solitude.

Really my problem with her is that she seems to have spent so much effort trying to make her book seem legitimate to hardcore literary scholars that she seems to have forgotten that she is writing an introduction to fantasy and should therefore be using books that can be clearly defined as fantasy. Maybe I’m being a bit too closed minded about her use of texts.

I would really not recommend this book to anyone who wanted an introduction to fantasy fiction because I don’t really think I walked away from it with any useful new knowledge.

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