Brian Attebery considers eccentricities and history in the writings of, Baum, Ruskin, MacDonald, Morris, Lewis and Tolkien in a concise survey of the different . Brian Attebery’s “strategies of fantasy” include not only the writer’s strategies for in his study of The Fantasy Tradition in American Literature, Attebery focuses. The Fantasy Tradition in American Literature has 15 ratings and 1 review. Brian Attebery considers eccentricities and history in the writings of, Baum, R.

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The American fantasy tradition is important because fantasy is conservative. It holds ancient beliefs and insights safe within a shell of seeming inconsequence. Its roots go back beyond writing and beyond recall, but it also continues to alter as our lives change.

American fantasy retells the oldest stories in new and pertinent forms and literaturf our national experience in a timeless context. Brian Attebery begins this book with some questions you may have asked yourself. I know I have. What sets it apart from other kinds of fiction? Attebery offers this definition for fantasy: Surreal fiction, on the other hand, plays freely with natural law, obeying or stepping outside it at will.

A writer who wishes to produce something thr American and fantastic, and who would root his creation, as did the British fantasists, in his native lore, must move against the current, restoring what has been lost over the years or finding eddies of tradition that have resisted the general erosion of the marvelous.


Attebery offers as examples ancient ballads which, when they came to America, were transformed. With rare exceptions, ballads and folk tales original to America follow the same pattern.

Melville expanded on this fear of the unknown to create marvels. America had been a country long enough by that point for some of the polish to have been scraped off the American Dream.

For those Americans, Oz became the mirage of America that hangs on the horizon. For the first time, an American fantasist drew on images and themes that are uniquely American in flavor. After this turning point, American fantasy began to truly develop. In Chapter Eight, however, a new genius has entered the scene.

This genius is J. Stephen Donaldson, of course, does not even attempt faith. His Thomas Covenant steadfastly refuses to believe in the beautiful Land to which he is magically transported.

Brian Attebery’s The Fantasy Tradition in American Literature: From Irving to Le Guin

Le Guin, with her Earthsea books. If it has been the dimming of the American dream that has caused a subsequent rise in the brilliance of our fantasy, we can at least americaj glad that we now have stories to light our real world, dark and xttebery though it may be.

We can hope, with Ian McDonald, that there are authors who are looking for answers to the questions that frighten us. Where are the Sagas and Eddas of the Great Cities? Where are our Cuchulains and Rolands and Arthurs? Granted, twenty years of fantasy have been written between the publication of this book and today. In those years many things have evolved, and there now exist numerous authors and scholars who would dispute the narrowness or specificity of his definition of fantasy. As well, there has developed a strain in our fantasy that draws on the myths and lore of American Indians, a lore which could be said to be the earliest native folk tradition of the marvelous that we have.


Attebery does not satisfactorily discuss this development. And his twenty-five pages of notes, bibliography, and index are a gold mine all by themselves.

Occasional readers of fantasy could give it a miss, but those who read fantasy devotedly or have an interest in the genre as a whole will want it for their reference shelf. Le Guin for coining that term. Although she makes money as a librarian, she makes her bran as a reader and writer of stories and reviews of stories. Atgebery has a growing interest in the interstitial arts. The album she listens to most often is Morning Walk by Metamora.

The fantasy tradition in American literature : from Irving to Le Guin (Book, ) []

The book she re-reads most often and she never fradition a book unless she intends to read it more than once is The Smith of Wootton Major by J. The Green Man Review. Indiana University Press, Mail More Posts 1. Proudly powered by WordPress.