Historical Dictionary of Fantasy Literature

Overview

Once upon a time all literature was fantasy, set in a mythical past when magic existed, animals talked, and the gods took an active hand in earthly affairs. As the mythical past was displaced in Western estimation by the historical past and novelists became increasingly preoccupied with the present, fantasy was temporarily marginalized until the late 20th century, when it enjoyed a spectacular resurgence in every stratum of the literary marketplace. Stableford provides an invaluable guide to this sequence of ...

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Overview

Once upon a time all literature was fantasy, set in a mythical past when magic existed, animals talked, and the gods took an active hand in earthly affairs. As the mythical past was displaced in Western estimation by the historical past and novelists became increasingly preoccupied with the present, fantasy was temporarily marginalized until the late 20th century, when it enjoyed a spectacular resurgence in every stratum of the literary marketplace. Stableford provides an invaluable guide to this sequence of events and to the current state of the field. The chronology tracks the evolution of fantasy from the origins of literature to the 21st century. The introduction explains the nature of the impulses creating and shaping fantasy literature, the problems of its definition and the reasons for its changing historical fortunes. The dictionary includes cross-referenced entries on more than 700 authors, ranging across the entire historical spectrum, while more than 200 other entries describe the fantasy subgenres, key images in fantasy literature, technical terms used in fantasy criticism, and the intimately convoluted relationship between literary fantasies, scholarly fantasies, and lifestyle fantasies. The book concludes with an extensive bibliography that ranges from general textbooks and specialized accounts of the history and scholarship of fantasy literature, through bibliographies and accounts of the fantasy literature of different nations, to individual author studies and useful websites.

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Editorial Reviews

CHOICE
Stableford (University College, Winchester, UK) defines fantasy literature broadly, extending the history of the genre back to Homer; a useful chronology documents significant works throughout that history. As in Stableford's science fiction dictionary, the introduction offers a substantial critical exploration of the ideas shaping fantasy literature and its reception over time. The dictionary entries continue the effort to establish a useful vocabulary and taxonomy for this literature. Over 700 entries on authors interconnect with 200 entries on categories, themes, stock characters, and the fantasy of particular cultures, placing each particular in a broader context. This approach has much to offer students and scholars, but this book does not serve particularly well as a reader's guide; the emphasis is on classification rather than on conveying the distinct character of authors and works....Stableford provides an additional guide to further study in an extensive bibliography of critical works. Highly recommended. Academic collections serving lower-level undergraduates through faculty/researchers.
American Reference Books Annual
This work will be of great value to public and academic library reference collections, creative writing departments, researchers, and to anyone interested in the wide ranging and vast fantasy literature genre.
Green Man Review
Ahhhh, two excellent new reference guides!...That Stableford is qualified to write these reference works is without doubt....Stableford's highly entertaining. You'll likely grumble or nod appreciatively about his opinions, depending on what he thinks of an author, but you'll be more knowledgeable on a given writer or subject than you were before you dipped into these two works....If you are a serious reader and collector of either or both genres, you'll want one or both of these works....Is each of them worth the cost of nearly ninety dollars? Oh, yes.
Reference and Research Book News
This alphabetically arranged reference for scholars and general readers covers the fantasy genre from its roots in the earliest literature to the present day. Included are more than 700 entries on contemporary and historical authors, as well as over 200 more on fantasy subgenres, technical terms from fantasy criticism, and some key themes and story elements (dragons, wish-fulfillment, Knights Templar, etc.). Novelist Stableford (creative writing, University College, Winchester, England) provides an overview of the genre's history and reception in the introduction. An extensive bibliography completes the volume.
Choice
Stableford (University College, Winchester, UK) defines fantasy literature broadly, extending the history of the genre back to Homer; a useful chronology documents significant works throughout that history. As in Stableford's science fiction dictionary, the introduction offers a substantial critical exploration of the ideas shaping fantasy literature and its reception over time. The dictionary entries continue the effort to establish a useful vocabulary and taxonomy for this literature. Over 700 entries on authors interconnect with 200 entries on categories, themes, stock characters, and the fantasy of particular cultures, placing each particular in a broader context. This approach has much to offer students and scholars, but this book does not serve particularly well as a reader's guide; the emphasis is on classification rather than on conveying the distinct character of authors and works....Stableford provides an additional guide to further study in an extensive bibliography of critical works. Highly recommended. Academic collections serving lower-level undergraduates through faculty/researchers.
American Reference Books Annual (ARBA)
This work will be of great value to public and academic library reference collections, creative writing departments, researchers, and to anyone interested in the wide ranging and vast fantasy literature genre.
Vol. 17.1 (Spring 2006) The Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts
...a comprehensive, thought-provoking, and important addition to the bookshelves of any scholar of fantasy and the fantastic, taking its rightful place alongside those valuable reference works on which it builds and to which it responds.
vol. 21 no. 1 (2007) Reference Reviews
It is impossible to praise this work too highly....Not only is this book a rich work of reference, it is also an original contribution to fantasy studies. Strongly recommended.
5/15/2006 Booklist
The Historical Dictionary of Fantasy Literature is a thorough and scholarly compendium on the subject and is an essential companion work for those libraries with Clute's The Encyclopedia of Fantasy. This is a must purchase for academic libraries supporting a curriculum of fantasy literature. It would also be a useful work for public libraries needing information on fantasy literature, particularly fantasy authors.
VOYA
Part of the Historical Dictionaries of Literature and the Arts series that covers significant persons, titles, styles, themes, and trends in genre literature, this entry by one of fantasy and science fiction's most prolific and award-winning authors covers a time line from the Homeric epics through the world of fantasy 2004. A lengthy introduction provides a wealth of scholarly background, including the changing definitions, scope, and appeal of the genre. The entries vary in length and scope, with general topics (Magic, Secondary World, Games) receiving longer historical overviews. Author entries are selective and broadly international, and discussions of individual works are necessarily more limited than in similar genre literature encyclopedias. Popular young adult fantasists include Anne McCaffrey, Neil Gaiman, Garth Nix, Tamora Pierce, and Christopher Paolini. The extensive bibliography is arranged in broad categories and subgenres and includes online resources as well as print; a resource for browsing, readers' advisory, and collection development. This book is recommended for academic libraries, and public and school libraries with large fantasy collections. 2005, Scarecrow Press, 499p.; Glossary. Biblio. Chronology., PLB $85.. Ages adult professional.
—Mary Arnold
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Brian Stableford is a part-time lecturer in creative writing at University College, Winchester. A professional writer since 1965, he has published more than fifty novels and two hundred short stories, several nonfiction works, and thousands of articles for periodicals and reference books.

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Table of Contents

Part 1 Editor's Foreword Part 2 Acknowledgments Part 3 Acronyms and Abbreviations Part 4 Chronology Part 5 Introduction Part 6 THE DICTIONARY Part 7 Bibliography Part 8 About the Author

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