Friday, May 24, 2013

_Strategies of Fantasy_ by Brian Attebery

People that study the Fantasy genre can’t agree on a definition of what Fantasy is. Occasionally a nonfiction book comes out from a scholar that tries to explain Fantasy and give it a legitimacy as literature. These books can be interesting to the Fantasy reader in gaining a better insight into the purposes of the genre and intentions of the authors. Strategies of Fantasy by Brian Attebery is such a book. It traces the literary importance of Fantasy as an important, viable literature.

Brian Attebery is a scholar who studies and writes about the Fantasy genre. He presents his ideas about the genre in clear, straight forward words. His expertise spans several books and he is part of the conference for t¯he International conference on the Fantastic in the Arts every year. Several aspects of Fantasy are explained in this book: a definition of Fantasy, its relationship to literature, and the contributions of women to the genre.

Defining Fantasy literature with a set meaning has been debated for a long time. Everyone has their own definition of what constitutes a Fantasy work. In his book, Brian Attebery provides a viable and sensible one. He believes that Fantasy is a fuzzy set that revolves around core books and expands out to books on the fringe. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien is an example of a core book. People’s conception of High Fantasy springs from this book. He thinks other core books are at the center of several sub-genres with a few books that defy definitions. Once Mr. Attebery established this definition, he moves on to explain the relationship of Fantasy to literature.

The author uses several literary theories to compare Fantasy books against. Through an exhaustive use of examples, he demonstrates that Fantasy is a part of literature. Readers gain insights into the importance of the genre and how it fulfills its purpose by story and character. He covers several books that are classics in the genre like John Crowley’s Little, Big. Mr. Attebery thinks the power of story and characters give Fantasy a legitimacy for consideration.

Lastly, the contributions of women authors to Fantasy have increased the genre’s strength. Mr. Attebery thinks women have helped the genre by addng their unique points of view. He tells how women authors like Ursula K. LeGuin, Patricia McKillip, Andre Norton and many others have created female heroines of strength and intelligence to the genre. They have brought us the women’s coming-of-age story to our attention. Women add different stories than the standard male hero.

Strategies of Fantasy by Brian Attebery is a fascinating book about the Fantasy genre. He develops many interesting ideas like a definition of Fantasy, the genre’s relationship to literature and the contributions of women authors in the book. Readers will get valuable insights about Fantasy from reading this book. If you come across this book, be sure to read it.

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