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Is fantasy escapism?

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  • Doc
    Eternal Champion
    • Jan 2004
    • 3630

    Originally posted by Heresiologist View Post
    Yeah, Wizardry and Wild Romance is a personal favourite. It's interesting to me that you see MM consciously resisting Tolkien because I always thought the stuff MM complains about probably just leapt out and jolted him right out of the story.

    Since you mentioned W&WR, I've consulted LeGuin's Language of the Night, Delany's The Jewel-Hinged Jaw and Disch's The Stuff Our Dreams are Made Of. Seems our concerns about escapism are well trod ground. I'd forgotten how down on LeGuin Disch was, though.
    I have no idea how I missed this part of the discussion!

    W&WR is a fantastic resource, as is Disch’s work (I knew I was buying it as soon as I read the title). Reading literary criticism by people whose work has been unpacked for decades is especially interesting.

    Since Mieville was part of the discussion earlier, it is hard for me to separate any of his literary criticism from his academic Marxism. I usually think of Marxist lit crit as an exercise by people who cannot actually write, rather than an exercise of a celebrated author. Another one of my favorites Jeff Vandermeer, has an interesting body of criticism and reviews, and his editorial work reveals some of the things his analysis does (especially as it relates to the new weird and steampunk).

    But enough of my fanboying. With respect to MM and his response to Tolkien, there are about 20 old threads in here where he addresses it directly. Without reviewing all of them, as I recall, at different times he took parts of both your and Sir S’s readings. I think it’s too strong to claim there’s a great deal of active resistance to Tolkien’s approach. I think it was much more about having to compare his work to the giant elephant in the room, which is actually a
    little odd. While Mike can structure a narrative as well as anyone, his worlds come alive because of the characters in them. I always saw Tolkien as the opposite. He was so concerned with the cultures he was building, the characters had to fit that world. Elric is bigger than Melnibone or the Young Kingdoms or even Tanelorn. Aragorn isn’t bigger than Gondor.

    sorry to derail the thread...