The Transcendent Vision of Mythopoeic Fantasy


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About the Book

An ever-expanding critical library on fantasy fiction requires an analysis of why the genre is so ubiquitous, enduring and beloved. This work analyzes the mythic elements in foundational fantasy texts, arguing that mythopoeic fantasy reveals timeless truths that link human cultures past and present. Through close readings of works like Phantastes, The King of Elfland’s Daughter, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, A Wizard of Earthsea, The Neverending Story, A Wrinkle in Time and Out of the Silent Planet, this book explores how mythopoeic fantasy speaks to the deepest concerns of the human heart. It investigates the genre’s use of an imagination that is sometimes atrophied by the demands of contemporary life, and explores how fantasy provides restoration, consolation and hope within a cultural context that too often decries such ideas. Each chapter focuses on a representative text, providing author background and engaging relevant scholarship on a variety of relevant thematic issues. Offering new insights on these classic texts by drawing upon post-secular critical approaches, this work is suitable for both new and seasoned students of fantasy.

About the Author(s)

David S. Hogsette is a professor of English and the executive director of the School of English Studies at Wenzhou-Kean University, Wenzhou, China, where he teaches a variety of courses on literature and literary research. He has published articles in Studies in Romanticism, Critique and Christianity and Literature.

Bibliographic Details

David S. Hogsette

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 232
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8292-1
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4735-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Introduction 1
Chapter 1. George MacDonald’s Phantastes: The Redemptive Imagination and the Quest for Sacrificial Love 15
Chapter 2. Lord Dunsany’s The King of Elfland’s Daughter: Clashing Worldviews and Recovering Communion through Sacrificial Love 39
Chapter 3. J.R.R. Tol­kien’s The Fellowship of the Ring: Understanding Good, Evil, Friendship, and Free Will 59
Chapter 4. C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: Fantasy as Evangelium and Apologia 92
Chapter 5. Michael Ende’s The Neverending Story: Quenching Nihilistic Despair and Filling Postmodern Spiritual Voids with the Water of Life 120
Chapter 6. Ursula Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea: Ethical Complexities in Dualistic Mythopoeic Fantasy 149
Chapter 7. Fantasy SF: Galactic Quests and the Mythopoeic Struggle for Intergalactic Good in A Wrinkle in Time and Out of the Silent Planet 168
Chapter Notes 195
Bibliography 211
Index 221

Book Reviews & Awards

• “The interpretation of fantasy as an ‘anti-reductionist’ form of literature is insightful and important, and its application to the chosen examples is convincing and often elucidates them in ways that seem to me to get at the heart of what they truly are and why they are valuable.”—Donald T. Williams, professor emeritus, Toccoa Falls College

• This thought-provoking book offers a full course of study in well-chosen works of Mythopoeia, including those of MacDonald, Tolkien, and Lewis, but also of writers with surprising affinities like Le Guin, L’Engle, Ende, and Dunsany, whose works certainly benefit from Hogsette’s analysis through a lens of faith. With a wealth of keen insights, Hogsette argues for the serious study of Fantasy Literature based on its longevity, diversity, and power to remind readers of intangible truths. He also explores how these writers ingeniously handle themes of sacrificial love, moral choice, or the role of the supernatural within the natural cosmos. Reading this book has blessed me with startling new spiritual connections not only within fantasy classics like Phantastes, but also between it and much newer works.”—Jonathan B. Himes, Ph.D., professor of English, John Brown University