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Fantasy, Myth and the Measure of Truth
 
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Fantasy, Myth and the Measure of Truth
Tales of Pullman, Lewis, Tolkien, MacDonald and Hoffmann
 
 
Palgrave Macmillan
 
 
 
 
 
12 Nov 2008
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£65.00
|Hardback Print on Demand
  
9780230005051
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16 Aug 2010
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£19.99
|Paperback In Stock
  
9780230272859
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DescriptionReviewsContentsAuthors

Fantasy, Myth and the Measure of Truth offers a detailed examination and discussion of the highly contested tradition of epic or high fantasy culminating in Pullman's His Dark Materials. This trajectory of mythopoeia or myth-making has its roots in the quest by a range of Romantic writers to transpose certain spiritual and moral values, once believed to be the prerogative of organized religion, into new myths. Critical of myths that are merely escapist fantasies, this study is also suspicious of totalizing 'grand narratives' that repress dissenting voices. The study nevertheless argues that, at its best, this mythopoeic tradition, which includes E.T.A. Hoffmann, George MacDonald, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Philip Pullman and - debatably - J.K. Rowling, can show the power of the creative imagination to generate, through stories that are imaginatively true, a renewed spiritual and moral vision.


Description

Fantasy, Myth and the Measure of Truth offers a detailed examination and discussion of the highly contested tradition of epic or high fantasy culminating in Pullman's His Dark Materials. This trajectory of mythopoeia or myth-making has its roots in the quest by a range of Romantic writers to transpose certain spiritual and moral values, once believed to be the prerogative of organized religion, into new myths. Critical of myths that are merely escapist fantasies, this study is also suspicious of totalizing 'grand narratives' that repress dissenting voices. The study nevertheless argues that, at its best, this mythopoeic tradition, which includes E.T.A. Hoffmann, George MacDonald, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Philip Pullman and - debatably - J.K. Rowling, can show the power of the creative imagination to generate, through stories that are imaginatively true, a renewed spiritual and moral vision.


Reviews


'This timely study traces the connection between some outstanding literary fantasies written over the last two hundred years and their roots in the Romantic Movement. In doing so it also explores fascinating links with traditional Christian teaching stretching as far back as Augustinian Platonism. Erudite and approachable, it throws new light in particular on the works of C.S.Lewis, J.R.R.Tolkien and Philip Pulllman.' - Nicholas Tucker, formerly Senior Lecturer in Cultural and Community Studies, University of Sussex, UK
 
'In this fascinating study, William Gray mines the relationship between German Romanticism and British fantasy literature from the eighteenth century to the present. In exploring the rich Romantic vein running throughout the tales of major writers from Novalis and E.T.A Hoffmann to Philip Pullman and J.K. Rowling, Gray exposes important continuities and discontinuities in a long tradition intent on grappling with the complex relation between fantasy and reality. Carefully researched and lucidly written, Fantasy, Myth and the Measure of Truth is a valuable addition to scholarship on fantasy, fairy tales, and the long reach of Romanticism.' - Donald Haase, Professor of German, Wayne State University, USA; editor of Marvels and Tales: Journal of Fairy Tale Studies and The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Folktales and Fairy Tales
 
'William Gray's scholarly study examines the often neglected relationships between German Romanticism and contemporary fantasy by tracing the development from Novalis, E.T.A Hoffmann, George MacDonald, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien to the contemporary work of Philip Pullman and J.K. Rowling. This is a valuable addition to literary studies and the study of children's literature, demonstrating the wider contribution of fantasy writers to philosophical and literary debates.' - Jean Webb, Professor of International Children's Literature and Director of the International Centre for Research in Children's Literature, Literacy and Creativity, University of Worcester, UK
 
'William Gray's book is a truly critical work, in the best sense: an examination of fantasy literature that moves beyond literary history and taxonomy, without resorting to pure abstraction...Gray has read his texts with scrupulous care, with a sharp, philosophically oriented intelligence. He has read around his authors thoroughly, he writes with conviction and openness, and sets a high bar for critics who would follow.' - Paul Tankard, Times Higher Education
 
'...a worthy addition to the increasing volume of critical material devoted to fantasy' - Pat Pinsent, IBBYLink 
 
'William Gray's Fantasy, Myth and the Measure of Truth is the most ambitious and detailed demonstration of just how deep Pullman's triology is rooted in the fantasy tradition stretching back through C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, George MacDonald and on to German Idealist authors and philosophers...For all those who seek to understand the relation between Pullman's His Dark Materials and earlier mythopoeic fantasies, Gray's sparklingly digressive and romantically (un) structured work offers, on the whole, some of the most compelling arguments to date.' - Lydia Kokkola, IRSCL NEWSLETTER

 
'In his complex academic study, William Gray examines the way in which the works of some of the most important British fantasy writers have been heavily influenced by literary and philosophical ideas of the Romantic Movement in Europe and by German Romantic writers in particular...Scholars of fantasy fiction will find this book an insightful and well-researched addition to the existing criticism in that field.' - Claudia Söffner, Bookbird
 
'The book provides an important and welcome survey of the origins and tradition of mythopoetic fantasy in English literature...Fantasy, Myth and the Measure of Truth offers an illuminating survey of this group of authors and texts...Gray's approach of recounting the personal and intellectual biography of each writer in relation to his oeuvre, together with a discussion in chronological order of their critical and literary works, provides a richly realized historical understanding of their context...it is a pleasure to read and provides much to ponder about the relationships between theology, philosophy, and fantasy literature. It is refreshing to read a nonreductive and psychoanalytically informed discussion of these authors that avoids the ahistorical essentialism of a typical Freudian or Jungian reading.' - Naomi Wood, Children's Literature


Contents

List of Abbreviations
Prelude: Pullman's 'High Argument'
German Roots and Mangelwurzels
George MacDonald's Marvellous Medicine
J.R.R. Tolkien and the Love of Faery
C.S. Lewis: Reality and the Radiance of Myth
Measuring Truth: Lyra's Story
Postscript: Harry Potter, Hogwarts and All
Index


Authors

WILLIAM GRAY is Professor of Literary History and Hermeneutics at the University of Chichester, UK. He studied literature, philosophy and theology at the Universities of Oxford, Edinburgh and Princeton, and has published widely in these areas, including Death and Fantasy and books on C.S. Lewis and Robert Louis Stevenson.