Rhetorics of Fantasy

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Wesleyan University Press, Apr 30, 2008 - Literary Criticism - 306 pages
11 Reviews
Transcending arguments over the definition of fantasy literature, Rhetorics of Fantasy introduces a provocative new system of classification for the genre. Utilizing nearly two hundred examples of modern fantasy, author Farah Mendlesohn uses this system to explore how fiction writers construct their fantastic worlds. Mendlesohn posits four categories of fantasy—portal-quest, immersive, intrusion, and liminal—that arise out of the relationship of the protagonist to the fantasy world. Using these sets, Mendlesohn argues that the author’s stylistic decisions are then shaped by the inescapably political demands of the category in which they choose to write. Each chapter covers at least twenty books in detail, ranging from nineteenth-century fantasy and horror to extensive coverage of some of the best books in the contemporary field. Offering a wide-ranging discussion and penetrating comparative analysis, Rhetorics of Fantasy will excite fans and provide a wealth of material for scholarly and classroom discussion.

Includes discussion of works by over 100 authors, including Lloyd Alexander, Peter Beagle, Marion Zimmer Bradley, John Crowley, Stephen R. Donaldson, Stephen King, C. S. Lewis, Gregory Maguire, Robin McKinley, China Miéville, Suniti Namjoshi, Philip Pullman, J. K. Rowling, Sheri S. Tepper, J. R. R. Tolkien, Tad Williams

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Review: Rhetorics of Fantasy

User Review  - Wm - Goodreads

When it comes to literary criticism, especially any type that tries to structure, define or describe groupings of texts, what matters most is if the approach put forth allows one to say interesting ... Read full review

Review: Rhetorics of Fantasy

User Review  - Nicole Pramik - Goodreads

I had to read my share of convoluted texts when I was in college (back in the day), so I'm no stranger to books possessing a scholarly/academic tone. But Rhetorics of Fantasy was just confusing (and I ... Read full review


The Immersive Fantasy
The Intrusion Fantasy
The Liminal Fantasy
The Irregulars Subverting the Taxonomy

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About the author (2008)

FARAH MENDLESOHN teaches at Middlesex University, London. She was editor of Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction for six years, and is the author of Diana Wynne Jones and the Children's Fantastical Tradition (2005) and co-editor of The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction (2006), winner of a Hugo Award. She is the program director for the World Science Fiction Convention in Montreal in 2009.

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