Abstract from “Fantasy as a literary genre” essay by Toby Woollaston – 2010

In this essay I wish to briefly outline what is meant by the term “fantasy” in order to establish where it fits as a literary genre. I will look closely at Suvin’s work on fantasy, where fantastic fiction fits and what, if any, sub-genres it contains. I will use Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) directed by Guillermo del Toro, Where the Wild Things Are (2009) directed by Spike Jonze, and the original children’s book written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak as examples of postmodern works that clearly display Todorov’s concept of “the fantastic”. I also intend to discuss how these two works fit into Jackson’s rethinking of Todorov’s model, as well as how they illustrate Ursula Le Guin’s psychoanalytical approach to “the fantastic”, and the ambiguous dreamlike transition from a child’s reality to fantasy. Finally, I will argue that despite initial investigations, Pan’s Labyrinth and Where the Wild Things Are are not works of fantasy.

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