The structure and rhetoric of twentieth-century British children's fantasy
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This thesis discusses twentieth century children's fantasy fiction. The writers whose creative output is dealt with include Penelope Lively, Alan Garner, Susan Cooper, Pat O'Shea, Peter Dickinson, T.H.White, Lloyd Alexander and, to a lesser extent, C.S.Lewis and J.R.R.Tolkien. These authors have been chosen because their books, whilst being of a broadly similar nature, nevertheless have a sufficient diversity to illustrate well many different important aspects of children's fantasy. Chapter I examines the sources of modern fantasy, presents the attitudes of different authors towards borrowing from traditional sources and their reasons for doing so, and looks at the changing interpretation of myths. Chapter II talks about the presentation of the primary and secondary worlds and the ways in which they interact. It also discusses the characters' attitudes towards magic. Chapter III looks at the presentation of magic, examines the traditional fairy-tale conventions and their implementation in modern fantasies, and discusses the concepts of evil, time, and the laws governing fantasy worlds. Chapter IV deals with the methods of narration and the figure of the narrator. It presents briefly the prevailing plot patterns, discusses the use of different kinds of language, and the ideas of pan-determinism and prophecy. The concluding chapter considers the main subjects and aims of children's fantasy, the reasons why the genre is so popular, and its successes and failures.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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