Thursday, August 31, 2006

A comment about Fantasy and English Classrooms

I am a big fan of the Fantasy genre, although I have only explored the works of George MacDonald, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. I know the genre has exploded in the past fifty years. One reason for the popularity of Fantasy is the lack of ambiguity and haziness so often associated with modern and post-modern literature. In a world of wizards, dragons, hobbits and knights, there are clear lines of virtue, character and morality that our current cultural context yearns for. The success of the Lord of the Rings and the The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe films is an indication of our interest in clearly delineated roles for good guys and bad guys. A friend of mine who works at Chapters tells me that Lewis's Narnia books are still best sellers, even before the recent film. Our culture has become too cynical, and fantasy can act as an antidote for this disparaging attitude. The explosive success of the Harry Potter series underscores this interest among adolescents. Certainly fantasy should find a place in our English classrooms. In some respects, fantasy novels can be more real and authentic than a cynical, post-modern novel. Such texts could create very interesting discussion in an English classroom.

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