Attebery on the freedom of fantasy
I’m enjoying Brian Attebery’s 1992 volume of lit-crit essays Strategies of Fantasy. I was going to post something from his introduction that talks about literary snobbery because much of what he had to say still rings true, but then who really cares about all that? It was with us 20 years ago. It is now. Whatever.
Rather, let’s talk about what fantasy can do:
Because fantasy has generally been excluded from the canon of great literature — and continues to be excluded despite the demonstrable merits of many of its examples — it can provide a place to stand and judge the canon itself. Readers of fantasy have a certain freedom which is denied to readers within the pale. We may roam at will from adult to children’s books, from formula fiction to experimental metafiction, finding pleasure in the most abstruse text and hidden complexity in the most conventional. We may find a continuity in literature that is denied to those who must draw lines and enforce standards. (ix)
Hooray for freedom!