Four British Fantasists explores the work of four of the most successful and influential fantasy writers of the generation who rose to prominence in the "second Golden Age" of children's literature in Britain: Susan Cooper, Alan Garner, Diana Wynne Jones, and Penelope Lively. Drawing on history, archeology, social geography, anthropology, and postcolonial theory, as well as literary criticism, Butler provides a series of new perspectives through which to view these writers' achievements. He begins by highlighting some points of biographic coincidence (e.g. all four authors were children during WWII, all were born within a year or two of each other, and all attended Oxford University in the early 1950swhen C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien were publishing their seminal fantasies) and questions if these factors play any significant role in the development of these fantasy writers. The author then uses this question as the springboard for a case study in the assessment of biographical and literary influence. The book also considers the role played by Britain itself in determining the shape and preoccupations of these writers' fiction. Britain is a land with a long history in which contemporary life is constantly juxtaposed with evidence of the past in the form of ancient buildings, historic sites, and archeological remains. By placing the work of Cooper, Garner, Jones, and Lively in the context of British culture and of their own time, Butler provides a key to their fascination with history, mythology, and magic, and to the ways in which that fascination has found expression in their fiction. Students of children's literature and of fantasy literature as well as readers who are interested in the lives of these four subject authors will find this an insightful read.
|Publisher:||Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||5.72(w) x 8.60(h) x 0.95(d)|
About the Author
Charles Butler teaches English Literature at the University of the West of England.
Table of Contents
Part 1 Acknowledgments Chapter 2 1. Contexts and Connections Chapter 3 2. Applied Archeology Chapter 4 3. Longing and Belonging Chapter 5 4. Myth and Magic Chapter 6 5. Conclusion: Writing for Children? Part 7 Bibliography Part 8 Index Part 9 About the Author
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
As the title suggests, this book looks at the works of four British children¿s fantasy authors: Penelope Lively, Alan Garner, Diana Wynne Jones and Susan Cooper. These writers contributed to the `second Golden Age¿ of children¿s literature in Britain during the 1960s and 1970s. Obviously there were other British children¿s authors writing during this period (such as Joan Aiken) who are not covered in this book so why has Butler chosen these four? The first section of this book looks at the biographic similarities between the four authors (all four were children during WWII and all attended Oxford University in the early 1950s when C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien were lecturers there). Butler explores the influence Lewis and Tolkien may have had on these four authors and then continues to look at other influences from the war and the culture in Britain itself. I found it particularly interesting to see the importance these authors placed in the land itself compared to the urban fantasies of Neil Gaiman and other later writers.I think the more books you¿ve read by these four authors, the more you will appreciate this book, but it¿s still a very enjoyable read even if you haven¿t read the complete works although it may well mean that you end up adding a large number of books to your TBR pile!I found the majority of this book readable and accessible for someone who has not read much literary criticism before. The last chapter (Conclusion: Writing for Children?) referred to other studies of the four authors and children¿s literature in general and I found a lot of this discussion rather dry.