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Chapter 1

ENG239H1 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: John Clute, Middle-Earth, Eucatastrophe

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Mike Johnstone

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CCFL: James (chp. 5)
Tolkien, Lewis & the explosion of genre fantasy
Most fantasy writers are “either imitating [Tolkien] or else desperately trying to
escape his influence” (62)
Tolkien & Lewis helped give fantasy its “medievalist cast” (63)
Both were professors of medieval English
Academic differences:
Lewis interested in what stories in medieval literature revealed about the way
in which medieval ppl thought
Tolkien interested in what the language of the past revealed about the way in
which medieval ppl thought
Both fought in the First World War (both invalided out before the end)
Tolkien was instrumental in converting Lewis from atheism to Christianity
Characteristics of genre fantasy (termed by John Clute) introduced in LOTR:
Middle-earth is subject to thinning: a decline from its former state (due to Sauron,
the Dark Lord)
Wrongness in the world demands Healing (purpose of the quest)
Typical of the portal-quest that the heroes move from a familiar world to an
unfamiliar one
Learn about unfamiliar world via uncontested explanations from a mentor-
figure (Gandalf)
Recognition: an awareness of their own role in the story of the world (characters
reach this)
Eucatastrophe (termed by Tolkien): uplifting characteristics of a fairytale (is
Final turn in the plot
Plot devices (found in subsequent fantasies):
Cook’s Tour: a journey around the Map of Fantasyland
Separation: where companions are able to have diff adventures (embark on diff
Cook’s Tours)
Temptation: brings drama into the confrontation between good & evil
Walking: characters travel slowly through landscapes & have to solve problems
rather than ride away from them
TOLKIEN’S GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT: the normalization of the idea of a
secondary world
Middle-earth operates totally outside the world of our experience
He lapses on several occasions (e.g., Gandalf’s fireworks is described as being
like an express train), but provides “enormous historical & cultural depth to
Middle-earth” (66)
Now standard in fantasy, but was unusual before Tolkien
Four essential elements of fairy story (according to Tolkien):
1. Fantasy: the result of sub-creation
Creation of something which is not in our world, but has consistency of
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