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Reviews295 ian efforts in Weimar and the transformation ofan essentialist ontology of fetishism into a cosmology of the self-creation of the individual" (p. 105). It is the principle of mimesis, rather than "realism" and "reflection," which "provides a universal philosophical foundation for the pluralism of ethical democracy" (p. 106). And Agnes Heller's edition of these eight concentrated interpretations provides a reliable accessus to its critical evolution. Rice UniversityMichael Winkler TAe Impulse ofFantasy Literature, by C. N. Manlove; xiii & 174 pp. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1983, $17.50. The main thesis of diis book is clearly stated in the preface: "the essence of modern fantasy is delight in die independent life of created things" (p. xii). The introductory chapter contrasts die traditional fairy tale with modern fantasy literature. Intrinsic to the latter is "the presence of consciousness," which, Manlove argues, "is the basic condition from which die overt concern with wonder in all its forms is generated" (p. 14). Modern fantasy , it would seem, has its roots in wonder— or at least has the same roots as wonder — just as, according to Aristotle, philosophy does. Anyway, in the subsequent chapters Manlove discusses various well-known works of modern fantasy, each of which, not surprisingly , well illustrates his diesis. Charles Williams's books, for example, celebrate creation, not precisely the artist's imaginative creation, but what that creation irradiates, exemplifies, and makes manifest, the creation of God. The following chapter on Ursula Le Guin's "Earthsea" series focuses on fantasy's tendency toward conservatism. That conservatism, the maintenance of die status quo, Manlove states, is "no dead thing"; in fantasy, at least, it can be "a living balance founded on continuous choice or a delicately maintained frontier between the orders ofnature and supernature" (p. 31). E. Nesbifs "yoking" ofthe magical and the prosaic — two realms which, in modern fantasy, unlike the traditional fairy tale, are very different indeed — produces in her novels a "supernaturalized" nature and a realm of the supernatural that is thoroughly "infused with the everyday" (p. 46). George McDonald's Phantastes and Lilith illustrate the "circularity" of modern fantasy. Simple circularity involves only the hero's returning home at the end of die story. In these two works of McDonald, however, the circularity is multifaceted; it is psychological and metaphysical, and involves birth, self-realization, death, and "the merging of the self with die greater consciousness which is its root" (p. 92). T. H. White's The Once and Future King includes, Manlove suggests, more loss and suffering than is typical of modern fantasy and reveals the inevitable tension resulting from such an inclusion. And the last two volumes of Mervyn Peake's "Titus" trilogy demonstrate the potential separation between story line and intellection or "meaning" common in modern fantasy. Finally, Manlove turns to several authors of what he calls "anaemic fantasy." Morris, Dunsany, Eddison, and Beagle — all come in for a drubbing: their works celebrate creation, but diey are also selfindulgent , self-conscious, and inautiientic. Manlove is strongest as a literary critic of modern fantasy, weakest as a literary theorist or philosopher of fiction. His individual analyses are many times insightful, but when he 296Philosophy and Literature is faced with die inevitable questions involving die definition of genre and the aesthetic limitations of genre, he skirts the issues. Is fantasy as a genre incapable of great art? Are aesdietic values, or limitations on aesdietic value, implied by the concept ofgenre, in particular , die modern fantasy? It is almost as if there is, in diis book, a separation of critical practice and critical theory, reminiscent of the split between story and significance often characteristic of fantasy literature. The substance ofhis book points to an aesdietic indictment of the genre, but his tone, especially at die end, is that ofa defender. Overall, then, the book is valuable for die reader interested in philosophic perspectives on literature precisely because it helps to focus and to pose interesting aesthetic problems about modern fantasy. Its limitations, at least for this reader, stem from the sense that the questions die book raises should lead to an even more valuable study than diis. Philadelphia College of ArtSusan T. Viguers T. S. Eliot...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 295-296
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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