Nature and the Numinous in Mythopoeic Fantasy Literature


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About the Book

This book makes connections between mythopoeic fantasy—works that engage the numinous—and the critical apparatuses of ecocriticism and posthumanism. Drawing from the ideas of Rudolf Otto in The Idea of the Holy, mythopoeic fantasy is a means of subverting normative modes of perception to both encounter the numinous and to challenge the perceptions of the natural world. Beginning with S.T. Coleridge’s theories of the imagination as embodied in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, the book moves on to explore standard mythopoeic fantasists such as George MacDonald, C.S. Lewis, and J.R.R. Tolkien. Taking a step outside these men, particularly influenced by Christianity, the concluding chapters discuss Algernon Blackwood and Ursula Le Guin, whose works evoke the numinous without a specifically Christian worldview.

About the Author(s)

Chris Brawley is a professor of religion, humanities and English at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Bibliographic Details

Chris Brawley

Series Editors Donald E. Palumbo and C.W. Sullivan III

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 212
Bibliographic Info: bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2014
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9465-1
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1582-0
Imprint: McFarland
Series: Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Table of Contents

Preface 1
Introduction. Fantasy: Recovering What Was Lost 5
One. “Quieting the Eye”: The Perception of the Eternal through the Temporal in Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner 27
Two. The Ideal and the Shadow: George MacDonald’s Phantastes 48
Three. “Further Up and Further In”: Apocalypse and the New Narnia in C.S. Lewis’s The Last Battle 71
Four. The Fading of the World: Tolkien’s Ecology and Loss in The Lord of the Rings 93
Five. Affirming the World that Swerves: The ­Alter-Tales in Algernon Blackwood’s The Centaur and Ursula Le Guin’s Buffalo Gals and Other Animal Presences 119
Six. “A daisy is nearer heaven than an airship”: The Utopian Vision in Algernon Blackwood’s The Centaur 123
Seven. “Yes. You can keep your eye”: Ursula Le Guin’s Buffalo Gals and Other Animal Presences 145
Eight. The Sacramental Vision: Perceiving the World Anew 178
Bibliography 189
Index 195

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Brawley puts a fresh spin on classic mythopoeic fantasy…his ideas are intriguing…recommended”—Choice
  • “Enticing. Through interaction with fantasy literature, Brawley succeeds in widening the field of ecocriticism to include nonmimetic literature”—Oxford University Press Journals Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and the Environment