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

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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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: 14.2 x 1.3 x 20.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 204 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #254,024 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

"This work is much more than what its title might imply to an American reader. It is not simply another 'formalist' categorizing of a particular literary genre. Todorov involves himself in a consideration of the concept of literary genre (with a perceptive critique of Northrop Frye), a detailed and perceptive discourse on 'the fantastic,' . . . and finally a philosophical-historical discussion of the relation of 'the fantastic' to literature itself. . . . This is an important work for anyone interested in criticism in general or in the criticism of fiction in particular."—Choice

"This, the first of Todorov's books to be translated into English (it was originally published in French in 1970), is brilliant. . . . Todorov's attempt to formulate a general theory for studying themes without subordinating literary theory to the social sciences makes this book indispensable to serious students of lietarture."—Library Journal

About the Author

Tzvetan Todorov is Research Director of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris and the author of many books, including "The Conquest of America, On Human Diversity, The Morals of History, Facing the Extreme", and "The Fragility of Goodness" (Princeton). He writes regularly for the "New Republic, Salmagundi", and other publications.

Brassai (born Gyula Halasz, 1899-1984) was a photographer, journalist, and author of photographic monographs and literary works, including "Letters to My Parents" and "Conversations with Picasso," both published by the University of Chicago Press.
Richard Howard, a professor at the School of the Arts at Columbia University, is an award-winning poet and translator. His translations include books by Gide, Cocteau, Giraudoux, De Beauvoir, Barthes, Cioran, and Proust, and Baudelaire's "Fleurs du Mal," for which he received the American Book Award.

Tzvetan Todorov is Research Director of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris and the author of many books, including "The Conquest of America, On Human Diversity, The Morals of History, Facing the Extreme", and "The Fragility of Goodness" (Princeton). He writes regularly for the "New Republic, Salmagundi", and other publications.

Robert Scholes is Research Professor of Modern Culture and Media, Brown University. He is the author of numerous books, including most recently "The Crafty Reader" and "The Rise and Fall of English," both published by Yale University Press.

Richard Howard is the author of eleven books of poetry, including "Untitled Subjects", which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1970. He is the translator for more than 150 works from the French language. He received the American Book Award for his translation of Charles Baudelaire s "Les Fleurs du Mal."

Robert Scholes is Research Professor of Modern Culture and Media, Brown University. He is the author of numerous books, including most recently "The Crafty Reader" and "The Rise and Fall of English," both published by Yale University Press.

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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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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: HASH(0x9fae7774) out of 5 stars 4 reviews
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9fbd7498) out of 5 stars 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.
35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9fbd7768) out of 5 stars 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
HASH(0x9fbd7ba0) out of 5 stars 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.
HASH(0x9fbd7b88) out of 5 stars 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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