The Encyclopedia of Fantasy
John Clute, John Grant
Macmillan, Mar 15, 1999 - Literary Criticism - 1079 pages
This huge volume is the first comprehensive encyclopedia of the fantasy field. Not only does it describe the genre authoritatively, but it redefines it, offering an exciting new analysis of this highly diverse and hugely popular sphere of art. With more than 4,000 entries and over one million words, this volume covers every aspect of fantasy-literature, film, television, opera, art, and comics. Written and compiled by a team of editors with unparalleled collective experience in the field, it is an invaluable reference for anyone interested in the art of the fantastic. This paperback edition includes thirty-two pages of update material obtained since the hardcover when to press.
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The indispensible reference on Fantasy. It's comprehensive, scholarly, and wide ranging: it covers most of history and has entries on fantasy from dozens cultures and in every conceivable media. There's also a scholarly theory of fantasy at work here, deployed throughout the text as a series of entries on subjects like "Story," "Instauration Fantasy" "Thinning," etc. Some readers have dinged it for this.
I disagree. Most fantasy criticism tries to impose a top-down definition of what the form should do, and then sneers at the books that don't do that. Clute and Grant try to deduce what fantasy does from looking at the books that are actually out there, and they tried very hard to look at all of them. It's quirky and passionate and positional, and, for an encyclopedia, oddly readable. When fantasy scholarship finally resolves its theoretical framework into something you can work with instead of against, my bet is that this book will be its taproot text.