quarta-feira, 19 de agosto de 2009

Historical Dictionary of Fantasy Literature


Fantasy is the faculty by which simulacra of sensible objects can be reproduced in the mind: the process of imagination.

What we generally mean when we speak of “a fantasy” in psychological terms is, however, derived from an exclusive rather than an inclusive definition of the term.

The difference between mental images of objects and the objects themselves is dramatically emphasized by the fact that mental images can be formulated for which no actual equivalents exist; it is these images that first spring to mind in association with the idea of fantasy, because they represent fantasy at its purest.

For this reason, Geoffrey Chaucer, the first writer known to us who worked in a language recognizably akin to modern English, uses the word fantasye to refer to strange and bizarre notions that have no basis in everyday experience, and this is the sense in which it is usually used today when one speaks of “fantasy literature.”

Nor is the word a mere description in Chaucer’s usage; it has pejorative implications. Any dalliance with “fantasye” in the Chaucerian sense tends to be regarded as self-indulgent folly, whether it is a purely psychological phenomenon (a fanciful aspect of “daydreaming”) or a literary one.

This attitude is peculiar, if not paradoxical. There is no thought without fantasy, and the faculty of fantasizing may well be the evolutionary raison d’être of consciousness—and yet, the notion of “fantasy” comes readytainted with implications of unworthiness, of a failure of some alleged duty of the human mind to concentrate on the realities of existence.

It is partly for this reason that the notion of “fantasy” as a literary genre is so recent.

Before 1969, the description “fantasy,” with respect to literary works, was usually only applied to a variety of children’s fiction, the implication being that the folly of fantasizing was something that adults ought put away with other childish things.

Historical Dictionary of Fantasy Literature - Brian Stableford [ Download ]