The Literature of Hope in the Middle Ages and Today

Connections in Medieval Romance, Modern Fantasy, and Science Fiction


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About the Book

The influence of medieval literature is instantly apparent in modern fantasy literature, where knights and wizards populate castle-strewn landscapes. Less obvious but still recognizable is the influence in science fiction, which draws on medieval story structure and themes. Beyond these superficial similarities, deeper connections become evident through an analysis of the literature’s social function. Like the fantasy and science fiction of today, the romances of the Middle Ages were written in times of extreme and prolonged social upheaval. In all three genres, the storytellers draw on the same archetypes—the hero, the quest, the transformation—for stories whose goal is to provide hope.
Using Jungian theory and comparative analysis, this book explores the connections between the three genres. It finds common ground among them in plots that often reflect the recurring cycle of life and the elements of psychological rather than literal realism. Representative texts such as Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur, the Witch World series by Andre Norton and More Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon are examined in depth, and the use of archetypes in each is thoroughly explored. Analysis reveals similarities in images, structures, and the pervasive belief that a perfectible universe is within man’s capabilities—if not now, then someday.

About the Author(s)

Flo Keyes is an assistant professor in the English department at Castleton State College in Castleton, Vermont. She lives in Poultney, Vermont.

Bibliographic Details

Flo Keyes
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 205
Bibliographic Info: bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2006
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2596-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface      1

Introduction      5

1. In Pursuit of the Elusive Literary Definition      11

2. What Need of a Candle Unless It Is Dark      21

3. Pawns in the Game of Kings      29

4. Five Centuries Later, Still Looking for the Light      38

5. The Hero      50

6. Lights, Camera, Action      63

7. Archetypes, or Why Does This Seem Familiar?      75

8. There and Back Again: The Archetypal Journey      85

9. Will Wonders Never Cease?      101

10. And a Little Child Shall Lead Them      116

11. The Voice of Experience: The Wise Old Man      128

12. Cutting the Apron Strings: The Great Mother      141

13. Phoenix from the Ashes: The Transformation      155

14. A Light in the Darkness      167

15. Hope Springs Eternal      178

Bibliography      187

Index      193