ENGB35 March 6, 2013
Fantasy depends on impossibility
―the willing suspension of disbelief‖ (Coleridge)
o If you can‘t suspend your disbelief, it‘s probably not a very good book
Fantasy tells us about the ‗real‘ world
Fantasy is a modern form of romance
Fantasy fiction & children‘s fiction both came into being at around the same time –
Alice‘s Adventures in Wonderland
Matrix: ―You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe
whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show
you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.‖
Reality is Wonderland
Fantasy is key to child development (Jean Piaget)
Helps children to ‗subjunctivize‘ (Jerome Bruner) – idea that you can think
beyond your own identity/concerns. Beyond the limits of your own experiences.
This is different from Lockean ideas – in that time, fantasy was not good. It would
confuse children so that they couldn‘t see the real world.
o From at least age 3, children can identify between reality and fantasy
Fantasy is a way for children to understand and manage a terrifying world
Example: Bettelheim on fairy tales
Fantasy cultivates the imagination
Fantasy enables access to deep truths
Ursula K. Le Guin: ―… fantasy is true, of course. It isn‘t factual, but it is true‖
(―Why are Americans Afraid of Dragons?‖)
Children remember the nice stuff about fantasy not the horrors ENGB35 March 6, 2013
The Romantic Child
Anarchic centre within the child
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) and the Romantic Child
Romantic child – childhood is treasured time
Childhood vs adult hood
Girlhood vs. adulthood
o The romantic child is usually female
A boat, beneath a sunny sky
Lingering onward dreamily
In an evening of July
Children three that nestle near,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Pleased a simple tale to hear
Long has paled that sunny sky;
Echoes fade and memories die;
Autumn frosts have slain July.
Still she haunts me, phantomwise,
Alice moving under skies
Never seen by waking eyes.
Children yet, the tale to hear, ENGB35 March 6, 2013
Eager eye and willing ear,
Lovingly shall nestle near.
In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die;
Ever drifting down the stream
Lingering in the golden gleam
Life, what is it but a dream?
Acrostic poem of the real Alice‘s name – Alice Pleasance Liddell
Dodgson thought up the stories for the Liddell sisters then wrote them down and made
them into a book (Alice’s Adventures Underground).
Dodgson made friends with many young children
Dodgson drew the original pictures then John Tenniel drew the pictures for the
Pictures are integral to story
Dodgson was a minister, a mathematics professor, writer, and a photographer.
Alice set Alice Liddell forever in childhood. Photography did the same, keeping
the children as children forever
Dodgson was eyed a little suspiciously for his obsession with young people.
It wasn‘t unique but unusual for an adult Victorian male to befriend little girls
He may have also become friends with children so that he could have affairs with
o This may just have been an emergence of privileging children
Subversion of adult authority ENGB35 March 6, 2013
―You Are Old, Father Williams‖: parodies Southey‘s ―the Old Man‘s Comforts‖
Southey‘s: Puritans‘ ideal. Death is always there and you must be waiting for it.
You are old, Father William, the young man cried,
And life must be hastening away;
You are chearful, and love to converse upon death!
Now tell me the reason I pray.
I am chearful, young man, Father William replied,
Let the cause thy attention engage;
In the days of my youth I remember'd my God!
And He hath not forgotten my age.
Carroll: Mocks the idea that children must be waiting for death.
"You are old," said the youth, "As I mentioned before,
And have grown most uncommonly fat;
Yet you turned a back-somersault in at the door—
Pray, what is the reason of that?"
"In my youth," said the sage, as he