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The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre Paperback – May 31 1975


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 190 pages
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press; 1 edition (May 31 1975)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801491460
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801491467
  • Product Dimensions: 20.9 x 14.2 x 1.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 204 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #293,819 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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"The Fantastic" is a name given to a kind of literature, to a literary genre. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Format: Paperback
Those interested in the structuralist criticism of the 1960s-70s will find the most joy here, with Todorov applying the rigorous structuralist stance to one of literature's most fascinating genres. His demolition of Northrop Frye's approach to 'genre' in Chapter 1 is still cogent after thirty years (and an amusing read in its own right), but it's Todorov's chapters on the 'themes of the fantastic', and his conclusion on its role in literature generally, which are most compelling. This is not, however, an easy read. As Robert Scholes notes in his foreword, "neither structuralism itself nor poetics in general is noted for its ability to charm readers." You don't say. Fortunately, Todorov uses many examples from well known fantastic texts - such as 'The Arabian Nights' and the works of Edgar Alan Poe - and also from lesser known French works which will have you rushing out to the antiquarian bookstore to hunt them down. You can accept or reject the structuralist position - but if nothing else, this book will open up a whole new world of 'fantastic' novels for you to enjoy.
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By M. Wegley on June 30 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is a great achievement in criticism, but one should be warned that Todorov is not talking about elves and dragons when he uses the term "Fantastic." In this book Todorov advances his definition of the fantastic as a "hesitation" or inability to decide whether events in a narrative are natural or supernatural. Thus, the book deals more with straight supernatural fiction, than with what we usually think of as "fantasy" fiction. All in all, Todorov is insightful and his book is a great companion to anyone who enjoys French, English, or American supernatural fiction.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4 reviews
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Structuralist view of 'the fantastic' May 30 2002
By Steven Reynolds - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Those interested in the structuralist criticism of the 1960s-70s will find the most joy here, with Todorov applying the rigorous structuralist stance to one of literature's most fascinating genres. His demolition of Northrop Frye's approach to 'genre' in Chapter 1 is still cogent after thirty years (and an amusing read in its own right), but it's Todorov's chapters on the 'themes of the fantastic', and his conclusion on its role in literature generally, which are most compelling. This is not, however, an easy read. As Robert Scholes notes in his foreword, "neither structuralism itself nor poetics in general is noted for its ability to charm readers." You don't say. Fortunately, Todorov uses many examples from well known fantastic texts - such as 'The Arabian Nights' and the works of Edgar Alan Poe - and also from lesser known French works which will have you rushing out to the antiquarian bookstore to hunt them down. You can accept or reject the structuralist position - but if nothing else, this book will open up a whole new world of 'fantastic' novels for you to enjoy.
33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
What Todorov Means! June 30 2000
By M. Wegley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is a great achievement in criticism, but one should be warned that Todorov is not talking about elves and dragons when he uses the term "Fantastic." In this book Todorov advances his definition of the fantastic as a "hesitation" or inability to decide whether events in a narrative are natural or supernatural. Thus, the book deals more with straight supernatural fiction, than with what we usually think of as "fantasy" fiction. All in all, Todorov is insightful and his book is a great companion to anyone who enjoys French, English, or American supernatural fiction.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Just great. June 25 2014
By Paulo José Cavalcanti Holanda - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It provides a didatic systematization of the fantastic, by dividing it into the marvelous and the uncanny. This system of definiton is of much help for researchers of literature, like myself, who sometimes get lost amidst so many prolix approaches. Definitelly a must-have to gothic literature aficionados interested in a deeper understanding of authors such Lovecraft and Poe.
I really enjoyed Todorov's perspective on the fantastic because it helps to ... June 23 2015
By The Rhetorician - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This review forced me describe the plot of this book before I could write an actual review--um, since it's nonfiction and literary theory, that's completely irrelevant.

However, I really enjoyed Todorov's perspective on the fantastic because it helps to consider the conventions of fantasy and science fiction in terms of structure instead of tropes. The idea helped me to do some rhetorical analysis of arguments made through these genres--so very useful (tropes can't do that). I'm not sure I fully buy his spectrum of the uncanny to the fantastic, but I haven't considered much the uncanny side of the spectrum.

I should note that scholar Rosemary Jackson built off of this theory in "Fantasy, the literature of subversion," and I think her discussion is far more useful, but Todorov's work is a good place to start when generating ideas about the structures of fantasy and science fictions.


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