2 High Fantasy Issues: What is “High” Fantasy JK Rowlings and Harry Potter
3 What is “High Fantasy”? Key reading: CW Sullivan, (2004) High Fantasy, in The International Companion Encyclopedia of Children’s Literature, ed. Peter Hunt, vol href INTE
4 What is “High Fantasy”? What is Fantasy? Stories with events/episodes/happenings not consistent with accepted reality (Huck)Primary world/Secondary worldBalance of “the extraordinary and the probable” Butts (2004)Mimesis – desire to imitate, to share reality Fantasy – desire to extend , to alter reality Hume (1984)
5 What is “High Fantasy”? What is “High” in the fantasy? Scale of story – epic, grand, world-shattering - thus, scale of issuesLiterary elements – tone, writing styleCharacters – noble and base, good and evilPhilosophies – morality, lifestyles and choicesReference and allusions - Links to other grand or famous storiesSuggests a real hypothesis about humankind’s future or about the nature of the universe (and our place in it).
6 What is “High Fantasy”? Is more serious and demanding Complex narratives characterised by certain recurring themes and motifsConflict between good and evil often the focus.Scale is worldwide or universalFrequently take place in created worlds or imaginary kingdoms – secondary world is distinct and complete – cosmology is often a key to the resolution
7 What is “High Fantasy”?Characters may call upon powers for good or evilOften a quest to fulfil.Major character is often “super”-natural and key to resolutionGoodness, truth, courage and wisdom prevail.Ancient powers: Nargun and the Stars, Wirrun trilogy, Sabriel/Lirael/AbhorsenStruggle between good and evil: Narnia, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Over Sea Under StoneQuest and adventure: The Hobbit; A Wizard of Earthsea; Beowulf; Odysseus/UlyssesOr both: Arthurian cycle, Harry Potter
8 Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone Biog. info on JK RowlingsBorn 1965 in Chipping SodburyKeen writer at schoolStudied French at Uni, taught in PortugalDeveloped Harry character and story outlines then, and returned to EnglandInitial rejection, then boom bestsellerUse of initials for boy readersStyle of books (and plots) “grows up” with HarryBooks are planned in great detail as a sequenceDraws heavily on legends and history
9 Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone Literary elements (borrowings from past texts)Myths & legends: stereotypes of witches and wizards, broomsticks, owls, cats etc.History: Nicolas Flamel and alchemy, Latin spellsOther writers: Dickens – streets of Victorian London, Blyton – Malory Towers / Famous Five / Magic Faraway tree
10 Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone CensorshipMagic and the Occultis magic promoted as an active mechanism to solve the key problems or reach the resolution?Death and ViolenceAre they necessary to establish the themes, or the details gratuitousAre the likely readers able to make such moral judgements?
11 Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone Popularity vs critical accordAppeal of books:for children – “at least they’re reading” – literature or literacy?for adults – escapismWhat is a “good” book?Bridge to other literature
12 Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone Harry as High FantasyHigh does not necessarily mean BestThe main events happen to Harry because they have to, not because he chooses to actGreat questions of Good and Evil, of world threatening eventsAs a literary creation, Harry Potter has introduced so many readers to fantastic worlds