Hello, and thanks for stopping by. The purpose of this blog is pretty straightforward: to talk about literary fantasy, broadly construed, from the perspective of a Catholic philologist and writer, namely myself, your humble host. I once upon a time pursued a doctorate in literature (medieval and renaissance mostly), but I quit that line of inquiry in a fit of disenchantment after five years of work. I’m just now, spring of 2018, wrapping up a MFA in fiction.
I hope to bring up a historically and stylistically varied range of material here. 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, and the archaizing aesthetics of anti-modern thinkers like William Morris, and mystical visionaries like Lewis Carroll and George MacDonald. But to be deep in fantasy is to be deep in history. And then sometimes we are the deep history, as in the so-called science-fantasy projects of writers like Cordwainer Smith, Doris Lessing, and Gene Wolfe.
The posts will in the main be essays and usually somewhat ‘long-form,’ but they are free-ranging, speculative essays, not academic. I don’t think of myself as arguing much of anything here. Anyway argument is not the substance of my writing, only maybe an accident of it. Please chime in with whatever odd thoughts and learning my odd thoughts and learning might occasion. I always love to know what other people are reading and I appreciate recommendations, contemporary or classic. I have extremely eclectic taste: partly because I appreciate as art what I may not agree with as idea, and partly because I find fantasy in so many unexpected places. Fantasy means visionary in its most basic etymology, and that’s something I try never to lose sight of.
Why did I choose the title “Defending Fantasy”? I think of fantasy not as some reprehensible self-indulgence or ‘escapism’ but as humankind’s highest aspiration, as the perception and (necessarily limited) articulation of transcendent reality. I am more than just interested in how that perception plays out in literary art — and also in traditional religion, which I do not mean to equate with the arts, though they have in common this supreme perception of and participation in reality and are intimately bound up with each other. I am invested in the art of fantasy. And it seems to me that the art, like religion, is always under threat of extinction at the hands of two kinds of people: philistines and puritans, which could be rewritten as cynics and moralists. It is in the fallen nature of things that one has to speak a word in defense of the good and true and beautiful. To that end I do what I can, though God knows it isn’t much.
Happy reading /