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Adspectus Incauti Dispendium (1601), woodblock title page from the Veridicus Christianus.
Adspectus Incauti Dispendium (1601), woodblock title page from the Veridicus Christianus.
The central water-bound globe in the middle pane from Hieronymus Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights (c. 1490-1510)
The central water-bound globe in the middle pane from Hieronymus Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights (c. 1490-1510)

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The fantastic is a term in narratology and the visual arts. The term is derived from Latin phantasticus.


Fantastic literature

fantastic literature

Fantastic literature, fantastic fiction or fantastic tales is a literary genre. A great deal of literature, from every part of the world and dating back to time immemorial, falls within the category of fantastic. Fairy tales like The Book of One Thousand and One Nights and epic literature like the Romance of the Holy Grail are within the scope of this genre.

Fantastic as a literary term was originated in the structuralist theory of critic Tzvetan Todorov in his 1970 treatise The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre. Todorov describes the fantastic as being a liminal state of the supernatural. A truly fantastic work is subtle in the working of the feeling, and would leave the reader with a sense of confusion about the work, and whether or not the phenomenon was real or imagined. Tzvetan Todorov holds that fantastic literature involves an unresolved hesitation between a supernatural (or otherwise paranormal or impossible) solution and a psychological (or realistic) one. His term hesitation is reminiscent of the terms ambiguity and ambivalence used in the definition of the grotesque.

Todorov compares the fantastic with two other ideas: The Uncanny, wherein the phenomenon turns out to have a rational explanation such as in the gothic works of Ann Radcliffe; or the marvelous, where there truly is a supernatural explanation for the phenomenon.

Fantastic art

fantastic art

Fantastic art is an art genre. The parameters of fantastic art have been tentatively defined in the scholarship on the subject ever since the 19th century. However, the genre had to wait for the inter war period to be mentioned by name at the "Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism" exhibition of winter 1936/1937 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, which displayed pre-surrealist works such as The Titan's Goblet by Thomas Cole.

Fantasy has been an integral part of art since its beginnings, but has been particularly important in mannerism, magic realist painting, romantic art, symbolism, surrealism and lowbrow. In French, the genre is called le fantastique, in English it is sometimes referred to as visionary art, grotesque art or mannerist art. It has had a deep and circular interaction with fantasy literature.

Fantastic art explores fantasy, "space fantasy" (a sub-genre which incorporates subjects of alien mythology and/or alien religion), imagination, the dream state, the grotesque, visions and the uncanny, as well as so-called "Goth" art. Being an inherent genre of Victorian Symbolism, modern fantastic art often shares its choice of themes such as mythology, occultism and mysticism, or lore and folklore, and generally seeks to depict the [inner life] (nature of soul and spirit).

Fantastic art should not be confused with fantasy art, which is the domain of science-fiction and fantasy illustrators such as Boris Vallejo and others.



The Fantastique is a French term for a literary and cinematic genre that overlaps with science fiction, horror and fantasy.

The fantastique is a substantial genre within French literature. Arguably dating back further than English fantasy, it remains an active and productive genre which has evolved in conjunction with anglophone fantasy and horror and other French and world literature. In French criticism, the term was first widely used to describe the work of German Romanticism, especially E.T.A. Hoffmann, after Jean-Jacques Ampère's 1829 translation of Hoffmann's Fantasy Pieces in the Manner of Callot (1814).

Bibliography of the 'fantastic'

Notes: nature and scope of the fantastic as genre

On a semantic level, the term fantastic is ambiguous because it can mean greatness as well as a certain sensibility in the arts, where it is used to denote works which defy natural laws and traditional ideas of reality. In the visual arts this sensibility has been always important but it came especially to the fore in Mannerism, Romanticism, Symbolism, the Decadent movement and Surrealism.

The ultimate aim of this wiki is to reconcile the concepts of the uncanny, Das Unheimliche and the fantastic.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Fantastic" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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