From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The term marvelous has two meanings. The first is causing wonder or astonishment (such as supernatural phenomena), the second denotes something of the highest or best kind or quality.
Exciting wonder or surprise; astonishing; wonderful.
- I went to a marvellous party last week.
Generic theory of marvelous fiction
In literary theory, it is opposed to the fantastique. In the preface to Pierre Mabille's Mirror of the Marvelous, Breton states: "The marvellous has never been better defined than as being in complete contrast to the fantastic." Tsvetan Todorov agrees with this point of view.
The marvelous is popular
- "J'abhorre les aristocrates et les aristocraties (de classe ou de n'importe quoi). Qu'ils gardens leurs Bressons et leurs Cocteaux. Le merveilleux cinématographique, le merveilleux moderne est populaire et les meilleurs exemples de films exaltants sont, depuis Méliès et Fantômas, les films des salles de quartiers populaires, les films qui, paraît-il, n'ont pas leur place dans l'histoire du cinéma. --page 100, 2005 edition.
- "They can keep their Bressons and their Cocteaus. The cinematic, modern marvelous is popular, and the best and most exciting films are, beginning with Méliès and Fantômas, the films shown in local fleapits, films which seem to have no place in the history of cinema." --Kyrou, Ado. “The Marvelous is Popular.”
The marvelous is always beautiful
- "Let us not mince words: the marvelous is always beautiful, anything marvelous is beautiful, in fact only the marvelous is beautiful." --Surrealist Manifesto (1924) - André Breton
On Lem on Todorov by Robert Scholes
- "Historically speaking, prior to what we refer to as the "Enlightenment," there could be no such hesitation [by which Todorov defined the fantastic]. The supernatural was accepted as a part of life. Witches and God co-existed with men and women, and a story could, in Todorov's terms, be "marvelous," but never "fantastic." Examples abound: Sinbad the Sailor, fairy tales, chivalric romances. At the other end—our end—of the nineteenth century, with the psychoanalytic discovery of the unconscious, there is again no hesitation. The witness to bizarre events, or at least the reader of the story, knows them to be the creations of his or her own mind. A story then may be "strange" (étrange, inexplicably translated as "uncanny" by Richard Howard), but, again, never "fantastic," science fiction and Todorov's careless remarks about it notwithstanding. For Todorov, science-fiction is a species of the marvelous, but the sense in which "robots, extraterrestrial beings, the whole interplanetary context" are supernatural is entirely different. Here the marvelous and the strange intersect without creating that cognitive hesitation characteristic of the fantastic, for the explanation of the events, while currently impossible (we as yet know no interplanetary beings) is implicitly rational (we recognize the possibility that we will know such beings in another time)." --On Lem on Todorov by Robert Scholes