❰KINDLE❯ ❄ Rhetorics of Fantasy Author Farah Mendlesohn – Larringtonlifecoaching.co


10 thoughts on “Rhetorics of Fantasy

  1. says:

    I was extraordinarily disappointed with this book Mendlesohn s earlier treatment of Diana Wynne Jones, in which she employs her categories, was groundbreaking and illuminating It also fully convinced me that her taxonomy was correct, at least as an interpretive suprastructure Unfortunately, Rhetorics of Fantasy falls far short of her previous book.There are several problems with the book, the biggest being that the central taxonomical project is inherently flawed and yes, I read the health note , but it is also plagued by bad writing and bad argumentation marked by sloppy thinking.The central problem is that Mendlesohn is trying to make an argument for rhetorical technique derived from her classification system However this system, as she herself admits see the Health Note , is an arbitrary one that is impossible to apply to the vast majority of fantasy books due to their adeptness at swimming between the boundaries As she admits throughout, Mendlesohn had trouble deciding how to categorize even the books she examines within each chapter, sometimes moving them to a different chapter, or mentioning that a book would easily fit into another category, then bracketing any discussion of this fact In each chapter she has to argue that the other categories could indeed be present within the current category she is treating.Ironically, this entire problem could have been avoided had she approached the problem from the other direction Rather than seeing fantasy as inherently divided into categories which are then reified by rhetoric doubly ironically, a position I don t think Mendlesohn actually holds , she should have argued that specific rhetorical strategies create fantasies that can be categorized across her taxonomy Rather than creating a taxonomy of fantasy, she needed to create a taxonomy of rhetoric The benefit of this is would have been that that she could group rhetorical strategies together, rather than texts together This would obviate the need to continually point out that one text can be seen as occupying multiple categories at once Instead, one author employs rhetoric in multiple ways within one text, weaving, for example, immersive and intrusive rhetorics together to create a polyvalent whole.This is further compounded by the fact that the categorizations that she does make are not themselves argued for In every chapter she selects books that she considers representative of the type of fantasy she is investigating However, she makes no attempt to explain or justify any of her choices, no matter how controversial or off the wall they seem This is especially problematic when she includes books which would not widely be considered fantasy, or which in fact aren t fantasy at all Pilgrim s Progress , without making than token efforts to justify these inclusions These range from books whose inclusion seems bizarre but acceptable Holes to books whose inclusion literally flies in the face of the critical tradition Pilgrim s Progress or the short story The Pit and the Pendulum There are two essential problems with this One pretentious issue is that it raises questions about her own engagement with the broader world of literary criticism there are serious problems with her treatment of the Gothic, the dream vision allegory tradition, etc Is Mendlesohn trying to engage with critics while still writing an accessible book about fantasy If she is she did not do her homework, so to speak The other problem is that there is so much slippage between genres, traditions, etc that what Mendlesohn defines as fantasy or within the fantastic tradition is totally called into question She spends close to twenty pages on Gothic literature, much of it on the less fantastic edges of the gothic, only to declare Fairy Tale part of Fancy and therefore not relevant She of course moves on without explaining this bizarre decision, leaving a gaping hole in her discussion of Intrusion Fantasy But this is to be expected, and is only indicative of her sloppy writing and arguing.I was also really bothered by Mendlesohn s poor argumentation throughout the book She constantly makes pronouncements which she does not or cannot defend, introduces important points without thinking through their implications for her broader argument, and even makes points that are so facile they offend the reader At the same time, because she is so flippant with the points she makes, she packs so much into each chapter that it is impossible to follow the major argumentative thread This turns all of her chapters into loosely organized musings that sometimes feel like a slog.Just to follow two related points along these lines One of Mendlesohn s observations about Portal Quest fantasy is that the category is given to imperialist readings In her work on Diana Wynne Jones this was a brilliant insight, and lead her to a brilliant critique of Jones s Dark Lord of Derkholm and me to a breakthrough in understanding the paradoxically great yet racist Damar books by Robin McKinley In Rhetorics, however, Mendlesohn does not work out this insight Instead, early on, she asserts that This kind of Fantasy is essentially imperialist, and then goes on to analyze most of the books in the Portal Quest chapter without even the slightest nod to her insight This becomes extremely distressing when we reach the core of her chapter, where she analyzes The Lord of the Rings a book widely considered by critics to be strongly and notably anti imperialist Yet The Lord of the Rings, she informs us, created the framework of the Portal Quest as we now know it It codified much of how the quest fantasy deals with landscape, with character, with the isolation of the protagonists into the club story narrative and with reader positioning She does nothing to either argue against other critics who see LotR as anti imperialist, or to explain how the book is in fact anti imperialist in contradiction to her previous assertion In fact, the latter discussion would have supported her overall argument and her overall treatment of LotR as a portal quest fantasy, so it is distressing to me that she didn t follow that path It is one of many that she ignores.The other point, Mendlesohn asserts in her Intrusive fantasy chapter that those seduced by the fantastic even to their deaths are in fact like rapists, trotting out the old rape justification of it made me do it It seduced me It was asking for it She quotes Nalo Hopkinson who originated that quote as support for her assertions, and then continues to return to Hopkinson everytime she makes this argument Unfortunately, I think she and Hopkinson are deeply mis appropriating narratives of rape to make this point, at a level that feels almost dangerous to me Viewed in either direction, they are essentially victim blaming In Mythago Wood, the book she relies on most to make this point, those men seduced by the fantastic are indeed seduced and ultimately killed by the wood If we carry on the violence against women analogy, they are like battered women, seduced by an abuser If we keep strictly with the rape analogy, then she is calling the men who are legitimately seduced by the wood rapists In other words, the rapist s excuse is true, and the object of rape was in fact a seductress This is not a path that should be tread down with anything other than a great deal of clarifying and supporting argumentation, but Mendlesohn delivers none, a serious failing and highly indicative of her sloppy, surface level argumentation throughout.I will skip a critique of her writing in general, suffice it to say that she is verbose where concision would be better and that her paragraphs are poorly structured There were also dozens of grammatical and proofreading errors, to the point that I was noticing one every other page I normally would not point out the one or two understandable grammar errors in a book, however these were so commonplace, and really so unacceptable in an academic work, that they seem almost indicative of the carelessness that went into the book.All of this said, I still suggest that serious readers of fantasy literature read this book, especially those interested in the critical perspective It is frustrating, but Mendlesohn s observations about fantasy, albeit obfuscated by her incompetence here, are truly groundbreaking.


  2. says:

    I liked it, but like this reviewer, I think Mendlesohn has got the cart before the horse Attempt to classify fantasy novels is like herding cats They are slippery creatures, leaping and diving through taxonomy at will Categorizing the different narrative techniques and discussing how different novels make use of a mix of these techniques would have, to me, made sense Her argument isn t helped by a lack of clarity in her writing The chapter on the portal fantasy is easily the best In other sections at times Mendlesohn relies heavily on a synopsis of the books she discusses than on a clear articulation of her classification structure.Glad I read it, though some interesting points to think about and Mendlesohn shows a great understanding of, and love for, the genre.


  3. says:

    Ms Mendlesohn s book is based on a question What happens if we consider fantasy from the way the fantastic enters the text From this question, and a plethora of reading, she formulates an answer based on several other questions What is the structure of types of fantasy Where is the reader positioned How do we meet the fantastic How does this affect the choice of language ect She makes it very clear that it s not the answer, but rather what she sees from what she has studied in the genre It s not supposed to be a template on how to write a certain kind of fantasy.But it does bring up good points to think about when writing fantasy.Fantasy, she says, can be broken into four categories Portal Quest fantasiesImmersive fantasiesIntrusion fantasiesLiminal fantasiesShe also points out a few novels that fall outside of these categories as is to be expected, since genre is not rubric, it s dialectic.Portal Quest fantasies are really two similar types of fantasy that end up following the same rhetorical structures The Portal fantasy is one where the protagonist is transported out of their real world into a magical one The most obvious example of this is The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Quest fantasies are similar in that the protagonist leaves the known world which is often far removed from magic, even if there is magic in the world and travels into the unknown on, well, a quest The most obvious example of this is The Lord of the Rings despite it s immersive qualities.The reader is positioned as a companion audience and we re tied to the protagonist for our understanding and decoding of the world We accept the narrative of the protagonist What he she learns from others in traveling is the truth The rhetoric is one of denying what should be taken for granted It positions the reader and the protagonist as naive which makes some sense, given the preponderance of children naive, unlearned people who end up becoming the heroes of these kinds of tales The tales often deal with the thinning of the land and end with the restoration of the land, the return to the grandeur of old There is also, many times, there is an association with the King and the well being of the Land very Arthurian Portal quest fantasies are closed narratives The information we learned is not questioned History is fixed When Gandalf speaks of elder times, we know it to be true.While the world of a portal quest novel can be immersive, it is not the world, but the journey that matters, and what of the world we see, we see as a tourist on that journey, not as a native of the land In LoTR, Frodo is only ever native to the Shire at the beginning of the novel There we are not tourists, but rather immersed in Frodo s everyday life Once we pass beyond the boundries of the Shire, we, like Frodo, are in unfamiliar territory We, like Frodo or the children in LWW , are astonished at it, wonder and marvel at the sights or quiver.In contrast, the Immersive fantasy assumes the reader is as much a part of the world as the protagonist The world must be complete and fully formed We must share the assumptions of the world just as we would if we were reading about another period in history or place in our own, very real, world We sit in the heads of the protagonist and interpret the world based on what they do and do not notice i.e., we are not told, the world is described.There is no astonishment when it comes to the fantastic it is taken for granted by the protagonist, and therefore must also be by the reader Immersive fantasies are not so much about restoration as they are about entropy, watching the world decline It not about building back up The protagonist is engaged in a struggle with the world, must challenge what is known History is not always reliable Mendlesohn points to Perdido Street Station as an immersive fantasy which brings up an interesting point Some immersive fantasies are nearly indistinguishable from science fiction.Another immersive fantasy would be the Silmarilian It s a good contrast to use between the immersive qualities of LoTR and the true immersion of the reader in the world Much of what we learn in the Silmarillion is through characters fully living in their world, rather than through the eyes of a character who is on a journey through it Immersive fantasies tend to take place though not always in cities I would personally say that many of the Urban fantasies are immersive.Intrusion fantasies are fantasies where the fantastic intrudes on the real word In an intrusion fantasy, the world is ruptured by the intrusion It disrupts normality and must either be sent back to whence it came, or negotiated and normalized But the normalization is not restoration The world or the protagonist is fundamentally changed by the intrusion.An interesting rhetorical device of the intrusion fantasy is that the protagonist relies on senses over over what is known There s an inherent distrust built up around what is known and in inherent trust in the senses What is felt is true What is known is circumspect The protagonist moves from denial of the fantastic to the acceptance, during which there is a kind of push pull between what is known and what is sensed with the senses winning out into what is true There are times when the senses are couched in pseudo scientific terms, but still end up as feelings clothed in faux analysis See also Lovecraft Quite often the intruder renders the fantasy world real than the mundane world of the character The protagonist is sliced from the world, but also does not view themselves as entirely part of their world or of the common man It moves between latency and expectation, building until the end Quite often the ending is somewhat of a let down it is the tension of the impending intrusion, the fantastic breathing on the back of the protagonists neck, that often is the heart of the tale Intrusion fantasy is about entropy and the resistance to entropy.I m going to stop here and state that I m not sure I fully understand the next category, the liminal Fantasy Mendlesohn originally conceived it as a form of fantasy that estranges the reader from the fantastic as it is seen and described by the protagonist In the end, I think she comes to define liminal fantasy as fantasy which presents two worlds, two truths but which denies choosing between them They are written in such a way that the mundane is described as fantastic using the descriptive and baroque language fantasy readers are used to and the fantastic is rendered mundane or real, but no indication is given as to which is really real It is a form that plays on the expectation of the fantasy reader It depends on the knowingness of the reader, the tendency to suspend disbelief and the knowledge the reader has about how these kinds of stories usually play out Then it turns it on its head and the reader is left wondering just where the fantasy is, and just which of the truths presented is true They deny the reader coded interpretation They are not closed stories and much, at the end, is left open for the reader to decide.Mendlesohn then talks about some of the texts that don t neatly fit into her taxonomy, usually by shifting seamlessly between her different types of fantasy I found this section the hardest to follow, and I think it requires a better understanding of the text she sights in the chapter.This is a dense book Part of that density comes from the detail the author provides about the novels she read Many of them are summarized in detail and excerpted heavily There were times when I started to skim the retelling of the books Mendlesohn referred to, simply because I wanted to read about what she concluded from her, not get a summary of a novel It was useful to know about the details of the novels, to a point, but there were times when I felt like the point was being dragged over and over again.In the end, it was a useful read, and an interesting one.


  4. says:

    I can finally say I have read this book in its entirety The missing star is due to my personal disagreement with some of her placements and the obvious issues such an enormous endeavour would stir up.Overall, Mendlesohn takes home the gold when she defines exceptions to her own taxonomy which, to me, made her argument much reasonable.


  5. says:

    Ukupan utisak je eh Teza koja se ocrtava na po etku, predlo ena taksonomija fantastike to je odli no, i podela po tipovima portalne, intruzivne, imerzivne i liminalne fantastike sve je to kul i neverovatno korisno za neku generalnu analizu fentezija.Me utim, kad se krene sa obrazlaganjem, knjiga prili no potone Zamerke mogu da se grupi u otprilike ovako retorika se analizira u znatno manjem delu knjige, najvi e pa nje se poklanja strukturi zapleta i evt poziciji naratora utoliko je malo nezgodno to se autorka odmah na po etku ogra uje od analize dela nastalih van engleskog govornog podru ja uz obrazlo enje da se bavi prevashodno jezikom a onda komotno nastavlja sa analiziranjem motiva i strukture Svako, ali svako skretanje od fentezija u u em smislu vodi u vrlo klimave analize to posebno va i za gotski roman kao predstavnika fantastike intruzije gde se jedan od malobrojnih poku aja da se zaista analizira retorika i stil nekog teksta Otrantskog zamka pokvari insistiranjem da je evo ovo stil karakteristi an za fantastiku intruzije horor, a radi se o tipi noj retorici sentimentalnog romana XVIII veka kakvu koriste i Ri ardson i Goldsmit kad se pomene magi ni realizam, u sre om kratkom osvrtu, kao njegovi predstavnici analiziraju se jedna 1 Borhesova pri a, Sto godina samo e iiii Ku a udnih du a To je definitivno najslabiji deo cele studije, i bolje da je sasvim izostavljen jer je prosto bolno koliko ma i poentu.Pa za to onda etiri zvezdice Zato to je knjiga u stvari , tamo gde se bavi svojim poslom a to je sistematizacija savremenog fentezija i izvla enje nekih osnovnih zajedni kih karakteristika za njegove tipove , zaista dobra i kvalitetna i sa mnogo zanimljivih uvida, samo su, na alost, isprekidani pominjanim digresijama i optere eni potpunim ignorisanjem drugih vidova fantastike ili nedajbo e drugih knji evnosti Da, istinski op ti pristup sa analizama ovih razmera bi skrcao i najambiciozniju ki mu, ne, nije bilo neizvodljivo lepo nazvati knjigu taksonomija anglofonog fentezija i mirna Ba ka.


  6. says:

    This quite a rigorous but thorough analysis of a large number of fantasy books Mendlesohn proposes a 4 part taxonomy of fantasy portal quest, immersive, intrusive and liminal and then draws on examples to illustrate this She also sets out to offer some ideas about what would constitute effective writing for each type I found the book most accessible where Mendlesohn draws on examples I already knew It is not an easy read I made lots of use of the built in kindle dictionary However, it did certainly get me thinking about how these categories might be applied to other books I have read.


  7. says:

    Det er en virkelig god analyse, men den bliver lidt delagt for mig n r hun inkluderer en disclaimer i begyndelsen this book is not intended to create rules and its categories are not intended to fix anything in stone Hvad var pointen med bogen s


  8. says:

    Decidedly mixed I like Mendlesohn s proposed taxonomic schema with one, rather significant, caveat, below , and her own rhetorics, often couched in provisional statements rather than authoritative pronouncements, combined with her liberal citations of personal conversations and emails with fantasy authors, conjures up the atmosphere of a cozy if one sided seminar.The chapter on the Portal Quest Fantasy is probably the strongest, and was a good choice to lead with, as it is recognizably a Thing with a familiar sequence and set of themes that play out in many books that you will have read The Immersion Fantasy where the fantastic is known to and accepted by the characters and the Intrusion Fantasy where the characters must come to terms with the fantastic in what they previously considered to be the ordinary universe are also useful categories, although the chapter on the Intrusion Fantasy takes a hard left turn into horror and barely considers what i would consider to be works of fantasy at all I find Mendlesohn s fourth category, the Liminal Fantasy, completely incoherent and useless Having read her definition that form of fantasy which estranges the reader from the fantastic as seen and described by the protagonist and her examples, which are primarily a single short story by Joan Aiken Yes, But Today Is Tuesday but also include Lud in the Mist, Wizard of the Pigeons, Tiger s Railway, Little, Big, Holes, Lost Boy Lost Girl, and The Separation, I am further from knowing what she means by this category than ever, except that these are all books that I either have zero desire to read or books that, having read, I barely recognized as they were discussed here Frankly, if I were to travel back in time, I would advise myself to skip this chapter altogether, along with the final chapter on books that cut across her proposed taxonomy, since they all seem to involve a crossover with the Liminal Fantasy.Still, I find the first three categories useful One star for each of them


  9. says:

    I went from uninterested in this because I don t really care about narratology to cautiously optimistic after reading some stuff published after it that referenced it favorably to just disappointed for starters, Mendlesohn clearly hates portal quest fantasy, and while she says in the intro that she took steps to mitigate her personal biasesit didn t work, lol, and it leads her to the conclusion that the form as a whole is inherently ideologically or epistemologicallybad evil immoral I don t know, something stronger than bad but weaker than evil she also seemed to pretty much just be bored with intrusion fantasies, and as a result the chapter on them was boring, too.but mostly the whole book just suffers from being, well, kind of boring the methodological notes in the introduction notwithstanding, this is mostly taxonomic, and so I feel kind of cheated I got neither a useful formalism nor, really, the kind of careful attention to the particular language of fantasy that Samuel Delany gave us for science fiction instead, as other reviewers have noted, the book is mostly a flood of examples without enough argument to pull them together that the back cover notes that each chapter discusses at least twenty books in detail points to its rushedness rather than its actual comprehensiveness.


  10. says:

    Mendlesohn s book is an exploration of those corridors of fantasy literature effectively left out of the narrative by both Todorov and Jackson, deemed to be properly understood as the marvelous by the former, and not of sufficient subversion by the latter, while engaging with the gothic fiction that fascinates both of them In doing so, she sets out four fuzzy genres sets, drawing on, critically engaging with, and expanding on the work of Attebury and Clute, while engaging a huge swath of literature and criticism I have some minor quibbles of her representation of a couple books, but for the most part, her readings of the texts and her categories are worthwhile The engagement with the first three categories, Portal, Immersive, and Intrusion fantasies was the most interesting, although her reading of the first category seemed to be the bad fantasy category, despite her desire to avoid such a category I found myself wanting to both engage in the texts she discusses, and to engage with her categories, as well Well worth the read.


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Rhetorics of Fantasy summary pdf Rhetorics of Fantasy, summary chapter 2 Rhetorics of Fantasy, sparknotes Rhetorics of Fantasy, Rhetorics of Fantasy e5cc162 Transcending Arguments Over The Definition Of Fantasy Literature, Rhetorics Of Fantasy Introduces A Provocative New System Of Classification For The Genre Utilizing Nearly Two Hundred Examples Of Modern Fantasy, Author Farah Mendlesohn Uses This System To Explore How Fiction Writers Construct Their Fantastic Worlds Mendlesohn Posits Four Categories Of Fantasy Portal Quest, Immersive, Intrusion, And Liminal That Arise Out Of The Relationship Of The Protagonist To The Fantasy World Using These Sets, Mendlesohn Argues That The Author S Stylistic Decisions Are Then Shaped By The Inescapably Political Demands Of The Category In Which They Choose To Write Each Chapter Covers At Least Twenty Books In Detail, Ranging From Nineteenth Century Fantasy And Horror To Extensive Coverage Of Some Of The Best Books In The Contemporary Field Offering A Wide Ranging Discussion And Penetrating Comparative Analysis, Rhetorics Of Fantasy Will Excite Fans And Provide A Wealth Of Material For Scholarly And Classroom DiscussionIncludes Discussion Of Works By Over Authors, Including Lloyd Alexander, Peter Beagle, Marion Zimmer Bradley, John Crowley, Stephen R Donaldson, Stephen King, C S Lewis, Gregory Maguire, Robin McKinley, China Mieville, Suniti Namjoshi, Philip Pullman, J K Rowling, Sheri S Tepper, J R R Tolkien, Tad Williams

  • Paperback
  • 306 pages
  • Rhetorics of Fantasy
  • Farah Mendlesohn
  • English
  • 03 April 2019
  • 9780819568687

About the Author: Farah Mendlesohn

Farah Mendlesohn is a Hugo Award winning British academic and writer on science fiction In 2005 she won the Hugo Award for Best Related Book for The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction, which she edited with Edward James.Mendlesohn is Professor of Literary History at Anglia Ruskin University, where she is also Head of English and Media She writes on Science Fiction, Fantasy, Children s Litera