Runner-up of the Katherine Briggs Folklore Award 2017
This book examines the creative uses of “Celtic” myth in contemporary fantasy written for children or young adults from the 1960s to the 2000s. Its scope ranges from classic children’s fantasies such as Lloyd Alexander’s The Chronicles of Prydain and Alan Garner’s The Owl Service, to some of the most recent, award-winning fantasy authors of the last decade, such as Kate Thompson (The New Policeman) and Catherine Fisher (Darkhenge). The book focuses on the ways these fantasy works have appropriated and adapted Irish and Welsh medieval literature in order to highlight different perceptions of “Celticity.” The term “Celtic” itself is interrogated in light of recent debates in Celtic studies, in order to explore a fictional representation of a national past that is often romanticized and political.
About the Author
Dimitra Fimi is Senior Lecturer in English at Cardiff Metropolitan University, Wales, UK. Her monograph Tolkien, Race and Cultural History won the Mythopoeic Scholarship Award for Inklings Studies. She is co-editor A Secret Vice: Tolkien on Invented Languages. She lectures on fantasy, children’s literature, and medievalism.
Table of Contents
1.Introduction.- Part I. Irish Myth.- 2. Otherworldly Ireland.- 3. Celticity and the Irish Diaspora.- Part II. Welsh Myth.- 4. Lloyd Alexander’s 'The Chronicles of Prydain'.- 5. Welsh Heritage for Teenagers.- 6. Susan Cooper and the Arthur of the Welsh.- 7. Conclusion.- Bibliography.- Index.
What People are Saying About This
“Like the characters with whom it deals, this book walks between worlds, in this case those of medieval Irish and Welsh literature, of modern romantic Celticists, and of fiction produced for young adults. It does so with a remarkable knowledge of each, producing a host of new insights.” (Ronald Hutton, Professor of History, University of Bristol, UK)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
It was with a learned touch and a clear, precise voice that Dimitra Fimi gave us Tolkien, Race and Cultural History: From Fairies to Hobbits. This essential work she followed up, in splendid alliance with Andrew Higgins, with J. R. R. Tolkien: A Secret Vice. Now she devotes that same scholarship and persuasive clarity to Celtic Myth in Contemporary Children’s Fantasy: Idealization, Identity, Ideology. Calling out this intriguing partnership of myth and genre, Dr Fimi analyzes the ways in which today’s writers have drawn upon primary texts, centuries old folklore, 19th and 20th century scholarship (some of it problematic if not downright loony), as well as the fantasy of earlier writers (e.g., Alan Garner), and transformed these sources into stories of their own that resonate with their own times and concerns. In this regard they have much in common with Celtic writers, both Irish and Welsh, as far back as the Middle Ages. Whether the young protagonists of these tales travel themselves to the past or to the Otherworld, or whether the past and the Otherworld come to them, these fantasies combine education and pleasure, utile dulci: family, culture, nationality, and growing up blend with enchantment, adventure, and wonder. They all take place within a continuum of ‘Celticity’, which sometimes seems best understood as a portmanteau of ‘Celtic’ and ‘elasticity’. If the writers Dimitra Fimi has studied here – Susan Cooper, Alan Garner, Mary Tannen, Pat O’Shea, Lloyd Alexander, Kate Thompson, Henry Neff, Jenny Nimmo, and Catherine Fisher – have not told tales as up to date as they might have been from the perspective of contemporary scholarly understanding of the Celts, they have succeeded in telling tales that will inform and delight the young of all kinds, and spur them onward to learn both more and better. Thanks to Dr Fimi’s fine synthesis, the readers of the present volume will also go forward, informed and delighted, about these works in particular and about the writing of Children’s fantasy in general.