Hello, and thanks for stopping by. My name is Jonathan Geltner. Once I was a doctoral student in literature (medieval and renaissance mostly), but I quit that. At present I’m completing a MFA in fiction, in the course of which I’ve written a critical thesis on the experimental Australian writer Gerald Murnane. The novel I’m writing for that MFA is about music, and the end of the 20th century, and Cincinnati, which is where I come from, and it’s about fantasy. I’ve started this blog because I want to talk about fantasy fiction in a direct way, rather than through the voice of a literary narrator. I want to share what I’ve been able to learn about fantasy, and I want to learn more about it from others. Fantasy was my first love, as far as prose is concerned, and as the years go by I suspect that fantasy, in one form or another, will be my last. I have many other interests, including e.g. theology, ecology and the sense of place, and in glossopoeia (Tolkien called it), the creation of language. But somehow every topic comes back to fantasy, which word means visionary in its most basic etymology, something I try never lose sight of.
But what is fantasy, anyway? And why do we love it? In fact, these are my driving questions. I don’t expect to answer them perfectly: good questions you never do. But in attempting to find one or another answer, I hope to bring up a variety of material. Mostly I’m interested in the modern genre of writing we call fantasy, the origins of which lie in 19th century developments that range from the romanticism of E.T.A. Hoffmann and folklorists like the Grimm brothers or Elias Lönnrot, to neurotic urban flaneurs like Poe and Nerval, to the archaizing aesthetics of anti-modern thinkers like William Morris, and to mystical visionaries like Lewis Carroll and George MacDonald. I’m increasingly interested in the origins and sources of fantasy, and will explore them here, but my interest is above all that of a current practitioner: apart from my novel for the MFA, I have an epic fantasy manuscript in hand. I care about what’s happening in literature now. It’s an exciting time to be writing.