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Chapter 2

ENG239H1 Chapter Notes - Chapter 2: The Summer Tree, The Fionavar Tapestry, The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant

Course Code
Mike Johnstone

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CCFL: Senior (chp. 16)
Quest fantasies
Structuring characteristic of quest fantasies is the stepped journey: series of
adventures experienced by hero & companions
Escalates in danger
Narrative begins as single thread, often becomes polysemous (minor quests by
individuals/small groups)
Start in a place of security
Protagonist = average person w/ hidden abilities
Receives call to action
Reluctantly embarks on adventure
Quest journey continues across wild landscape
Menace often from a Dark Lord (colossal but warped power)
Wishes to enslave/denature the world
Lives in dead land, surrounded by forbidding mountains & deserts
Final stage of quest: direct confrontation w/ Dark Lord
Dark Lord’s defeat = result of action/decision by hero
Donaldson’s Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever: Lord Foul’s Bane
Begins in small Midwestern town
Thomas Covenant discovers he has leprosy & is exiled
Meets Creator of primary world
First Chronicles are portal fantasies (Covenant called from primary world into
secondary world)
Employs the scaffolding journey motif:
Average person = unwilling hero
Mage/wisdom figure
Importance of companions
Acquisition of knowledge & discovery of self
Crux of choice & action
Rejection of passivity
Wonder of the secondary world
Deep mythic past of history & legends
Mixture of pals
Rule & limits of magic
Machinations of the Dark Lord & his minions
Reality of evil
Final crescendo of battle & triumph
Months in the secondary world = seconds in the primary world (e.g., Narnia)
Kay’s The Summer Tree introduces characters in contemporary world (UofT
Average (common to quest fantasy) UofT students
Voyage to Fionavar & experiences there reveal mythic identities & functions they
can fulfil only in Fionavar
Each has a separate quest, though common purpose of defeating Rakoth
Introduced to Fionavar via lecturer (actually a mage)
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