This sweeping study of fantasy literature offers “new and often surprising readings of works both familiar and obscure. A fine critical work” (Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts).
Transcending arguments over the definition of fantasy literature, Rhetorics of Fantasy introduces a provocative new system of classification for the genre. Drawing on nearly two hundred examples of modern fantasy, author Farah Mendlesohn identifies four categories—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 some of the best works in the contemporary field. Mendlesohn discusses works by more than one hundred authors, including Lloyd Alexander, Peter Beagle, Marion Zimmer Bradley, John Crowley, Stephen R. Donaldson, Stephen King, C. S. Lewis, Gregory Maguire, Robin McKinley, China Miéville, Suniti Namjoshi, Philip Pullman, J. K. Rowling, Sheri S. Tepper, J. R. R. Tolkien, Tad Williams, and many others.