Fantasy literature  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Fantasy or fantastique?, fantastic literature

Fantasy literature is fantasy in written form. Historically speaking, the majority of fantasy works have been literature. Since the 1950s however, a growing segment of the fantasy genre has taken the form of films, television programs, graphic novels, video games, music, painting, and other media.



Stories involving magic, paranormal magic and terrible monsters have existed in spoken forms before the advent of printed literature. Homer's Odyssey satisfies the definition of the fantasy genre with its magic, gods, heroes, adventures and monsters. Fantasy literature, as a distinct type, emerged in Victorian times, with the works of writers such as William Morris, Lord Dunsany, and George MacDonald.

J. R. R. Tolkien played a large role in the popularization of the fantasy genre with his hugely successful publications – The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien was largely informed by an ancient body of Anglo-Saxon myths — particularly Beowulf — as well as modern works such as The Worm Ouroboros by E. R. Eddison, and it was after his work that the genre began to receive the moniker, "fantasy" (often applied retro-actively to the works of Eddison, Carroll, Howard, et al.). J. R. R. Tolkien's close friend C. S. Lewis, author of the The Chronicles of Narnia, also an English professor interested in similar themes, was also associated with popularizing the fantasy genre.

Modern Day

Authors such as J.K.Rowling and Terry Pratchett are maintaining the genre's popularity. Rowling's sales record from fantasy books made her the world's first author billionaire.


Fantasy has been distinguished from other forms of literature by its style.

Ursula K. LeGuin, in her influential essay, "From Elfland to Poughkeepsie", criticized the use of a formal, "olden-day" style for writing high fantasy. While she admired the archaic style for its ability to distance prose into a fantasy world rather than appear as a modern world in disguise, when it was used by masters such as Lord Dunsany and E. R. Eddison, she also noted that it was a dangerous trap for fantasy writers because it was ridiculous when done wrong. Michael Moorcock observed that many writers would use archaic language for its sonority and to lend color to a lifeless story.

The fantasy world requires, like any genre, appropriate language, and that language can vary. In various forms of fairytale fantasy, even the villain's language would be inappropriate if vulgar.

See also

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

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