- Farah Mendlesoh’s Rhetorics of Fantasy
- Rhetorics of Fantasy, Farah Mendlesohn | Christian Sauvé
They are not closed stories and much, at the end, is left open for the reader to decide. Mendlesohn then talks about some of the texts that don't neatly fit into her taxonomy, usually by shifting seamlessly between her different types of fantasy. I found this section the hardest to follow, and I think it requires a better understanding of the text she sights in the chapter.
This is a dense book. Part of that density comes from the detail the author provides about the novels she read. Many of them are summarized in detail and excerpted heavily. There were times when I started to skim the retelling of the books Mendlesohn referred to, simply because I wanted to read about what she concluded from her, not get a summary of a novel.
It was useful to know about the details of the novels, to a point, but there were times when I felt like the point was being dragged over and over again. In the end, it was a useful read, and an interesting one. Jan 08, Beatriz rated it really liked it Shelves: uni-reads , paced-reads. I can finally say I have read this book in its entirety. The missing star is due to my personal disagreement with some of her placements and the obvious issues such an enormous endeavour would stir up.
Overall, Mendlesohn takes home the gold when she defines exceptions to her own taxonomy which, to me, made her argument much more reasonable. Jun 30, T. Munro rated it really liked it.
This quite a rigorous but thorough analysis of a large number of fantasy books. She also sets out to offer some ideas about what would constitute effective writing for each type. I found the book most accessible where Mendlesohn draws on examples I already knew. It is not an easy read I made lots of use of the built in kindle dictionary. However, it d This quite a rigorous but thorough analysis of a large number of fantasy books. However, it did certainly get me thinking about how these categories might be applied to other books I have read.
Apr 16, Meghan rated it liked it Shelves: interlibrary-loan , nonfic-academic , nonfic-litcrit. Decidedly mixed. I like Mendlesohn's proposed taxonomic schema with one, rather significant, caveat, below , and her own rhetorics, often couched in provisional statements rather than authoritative pronouncements, combined with her liberal citations of personal conversations and emails with fantasy authors, conjures up the atmosphere of a cozy if one-sided seminar.
The chapter on the Portal-Quest Fantasy is probably the strongest, and was a good choice to lead with, as it is recognizably a Thing Decidedly mixed. The chapter on the Portal-Quest Fantasy is probably the strongest, and was a good choice to lead with, as it is recognizably a Thing with a familiar sequence and set of themes that play out in many books that you will have read. The Immersion Fantasy where the fantastic is known to and accepted by the characters and the Intrusion Fantasy where the characters must come to terms with the fantastic in what they previously considered to be the ordinary universe are also useful categories, although the chapter on the Intrusion Fantasy takes a hard left turn into horror and barely considers what i would consider to be works of fantasy at all.
I find Mendlesohn's fourth category, the Liminal Fantasy, completely incoherent and useless. Having read her definition "that form of fantasy which estranges the reader from the fantastic as seen and described by the protagonist" and her examples, which are primarily a single short story by Joan Aiken "Yes, But Today Is Tuesday" but also include Lud-in-the-Mist , Wizard of the Pigeons , Tiger's Railway , Little, Big , Holes , Lost Boy Lost Girl , and The Separation , I am further from knowing what she means by this category than ever, except that these are all books that I either have zero desire to read or books that, having read, I barely recognized as they were discussed here.
Frankly, if I were to travel back in time, I would advise myself to skip this chapter altogether, along with the final chapter on books that cut across her proposed taxonomy, since they all seem to involve a crossover with the Liminal Fantasy. Still, I find the first three categories useful! One star for each of them! Sep 05, Nathaniel rated it it was ok Shelves: academia , fantasy , fields. Apr 28, Robert Wood rated it really liked it. Mendlesohn's book is an exploration of those corridors of fantasy literature effectively left out of the narrative by both Todorov and Jackson, deemed to be properly understood as the marvelous by the former, and not of sufficient subversion by the latter, while engaging with the gothic fiction that fascinates both of them.
In doing so, she sets out four fuzzy genres sets, drawing on, critically engaging with, and expanding on the work of Attebury and Clute, while engaging a huge swath of litera Mendlesohn's book is an exploration of those corridors of fantasy literature effectively left out of the narrative by both Todorov and Jackson, deemed to be properly understood as the marvelous by the former, and not of sufficient subversion by the latter, while engaging with the gothic fiction that fascinates both of them.
In doing so, she sets out four fuzzy genres sets, drawing on, critically engaging with, and expanding on the work of Attebury and Clute, while engaging a huge swath of literature and criticism. I have some minor quibbles of her representation of a couple books, but for the most part, her readings of the texts and her categories are worthwhile. The engagement with the first three categories, Portal, Immersive, and Intrusion fantasies was the most interesting, although her reading of the first category seemed to be the 'bad' fantasy category, despite her desire to avoid such a category.
I found myself wanting to both engage in the texts she discusses, and to engage with her categories, as well. Well worth the read. Feb 06, Seth rated it liked it. This is a very possibly over- wordy book trying to turn art writing fantasy lit into a science. After the first chapter, I pretty much skimmed. It could have been called "a taxonomy of fantasy" rather than "rhetorics," but it doesn't really matter. Lewis, Tolkien, Frank Baum, etc.
Farah Mendlesoh’s Rhetorics of Fantasy
It can be helpful, and I enjoyed and was informed by the read. Still, I doubt the everyday Joe will find this interesting in the slightest, and it takes a patient reader to study it to the end. Jun 20, Bethany rated it liked it. Two stars for obvious biases, terms that get thrown around casually but never defined, and a somewhat random selection of stories. Four stars for a fascinating concept, the number of new fantasy books it inspired me to check out, and the fact that there is just not enough scholarship on fantasy out there.
I enjoyed reading this book, even when I was baffled by the unexplained terms or annoyed by some of the blanket-assumptions it made. May 10, Dan'l Danehy-oakes rated it really liked it. I must begin by admitting a not-very-deep acquaintance, and somewhat deeper admiration for, Farah Mendlesohn, by way of the Intartoobz. The thesis of this - I guess you'd call it a monograph? Using this rubric, Mendlesohn identifies four major groups of fantasies: 1 The portal-quest fantasy.
This I must begin by admitting a not-very-deep acquaintance, and somewhat deeper admiration for, Farah Mendlesohn, by way of the Intartoobz. This is the story where a protagonist is taken from her familiar surroundings and put into the fantasy world. A good type case for this is C. A story in which something from "outside" enters the "normal" world. Charles Williams's novels are largely of this nature, as is most fantastic horror. This is the hardest to define; it is, strictly speaking, a story on the borderlines of the fantastic.
There is a fifth grouping, of fantastic stories that don't fit comfortably into any of these categories. Some of them combine strategies of multiple types; others don't even fit that comfortably. What it's really about is the rhetorical textual strategies fantasists use in creating these stories, ranging from point of view to various forms of irony and equipose, and everything in between. Mendlesohn illustrates her points with occasionally lengthy excerpts from a variety of texts.
I began with an admission; I will end with another. Following Mendlesohn's arguments takes effort, and occasionally reached the edges of my qualification to read such things. But I got a great deal of pleasure from following them, and will return to some of these texts - and approach new ones - with a new set of tools for understanding what the writer is doing.
Jun 13, Saara rated it it was ok Shelves: non-fiction. Interesting viewpoint, ultimately disappointing. Ostensibly not interested in creating a taxonomy of genres and subgenres based on formal analysis, she nevertheless ends up suggesting hierachies and boxes. A big oversight - that of many scholars interested in SFF, in my experience - is taking the exceptionality of fantastic fiction as given, and drawing from a limited pool of previous theory, mostly other SFF-r Interesting viewpoint, ultimately disappointing.
A big oversight - that of many scholars interested in SFF, in my experience - is taking the exceptionality of fantastic fiction as given, and drawing from a limited pool of previous theory, mostly other SFF-related work. A lot of what is presented as qualities of fantasy literature is just as well found in realist literature, and theorized on by earlier scholars. A broader POV might have yielded better results. Jun 18, Kristina rated it really liked it Shelves: nonfiction , sff , academic , fantasy , challenge Very much enjoyed and provided many insights into the kinds of fantasy I tend to prefer and why as well as providing the opportunity for rigorous reading.
I was mostly not familiar with the texts she analyzed, which is partly why this is 4 and not 5 stars. I'm not sure I completely agree with her taxonomy, and I feel that while the divisions may work well for the texts she chose, that many of the books I've read over the last decade don't fit easily into one of her categories. I see many more ex Very much enjoyed and provided many insights into the kinds of fantasy I tend to prefer and why as well as providing the opportunity for rigorous reading.
I see many more exceptions to her "rules" - which could be authors actively subverting earlier forms and tropes or could be a flaw or gap in the taxonomy. It is an interesting structure within which to assess and enjoy texts on a rhetorical level, so I will doubtless find it intriguing to ponder when reading in future.
Mar 15, A.
Rhetorics of Fantasy, Farah Mendlesohn | Christian Sauvé
On the whole, I thought this would be more illuminating than it was. Jun 28, Mjhancock rated it liked it Shelves: fantasy , scholarly. Mendlesohn proposes that fantasy literature can be thought of in terms of four rhetorical strategies, based on how fantasy enters the story. In the portal quest story, a protagonist travels from the ordinary into the fantasy and gains some mastery over it, and we the readers go with them.
In an immersive fantasy, the reader is thrust into a fantasy world all characters are already familiar with, and we're left to catch up as we go along. In an intrusion fantasy, the fantasy intrudes upon the ord Mendlesohn proposes that fantasy literature can be thought of in terms of four rhetorical strategies, based on how fantasy enters the story.
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In an intrusion fantasy, the fantasy intrudes upon the ordinary world, and must usually be driven off. And in liminal fantasy, the magic hovers at the corners, treated by the book's characters as perfectly ordinary. For me at least, it's an immensely useful set of tools, one that can be applied to fantasy across a number of mediums. The book is divided into five chapters, and each chapter addresses a different type of fantasy, with the final chapter addressing hybrid forms. As others have noted, beyond this basic structure, there's something of a looseness to the book, as Mendlesohn has a tendency to weave in and out with her argument and jump from point to point.
It's a little hard to tell when she's talking specifically at the book at hand, and when she's referring to what she thinks of as the type as a whole.