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Who Invented Fantasy?

Discussion in 'Research' started by Lancasrer, Oct 10, 2020.

  1. S.T. Ockenner

    S.T. Ockenner Auror

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    I don't drink coffee
     
  2. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    Coffee is life. *raises mug* Cheers.
     
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  3. S.T. Ockenner

    S.T. Ockenner Auror

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    Sounds like you have a bit of a coffee problem. Have you tried tea, the superior beverage?
    Also, TOLKIEN DID NOT INVENT MODERN FANTASY!
     
  4. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    What, drink soggy leaf water? I take caffeine pills with coffee, thank you very much. Breakfast of champions.
     
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  5. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Coffee yes, but since discovering Scottish breakfast tea, I've been turning to that while I write. I have a Yeti mug, which keeps the liquid hot for an hour or even two. Let's me sip at it in a way that just doesn't work with coffee (I should add that I have an espresso machine and pretty much never drink American-style coffee any more. Unless there's donuts).
     
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  6. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Maester

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    Why not both?

    My day starts with an espresso and a cup of tea. Drink the espresso while the tea cools to the ideal drinking temperature. Best way to start the day.
     
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  7. S.T. Ockenner

    S.T. Ockenner Auror

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    This started as a discussion about who invented fantasy (hint: NOT TOLKIEN!) then became the official tea and hot, inferior bean juice (otherwise known as coffee) thread.
    On this topic, I must say I have become quite partial to the hot cocoa I have recently drank a few days ago.
     
  8. Darkfantasy

    Darkfantasy Inkling

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    There is no inventor that we are aware of if you're talking about originality. Elves were invented long before novels even existed. Many fantasy creature existed in people's minds before we even wrote about them.
     
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  9. S.T. Ockenner

    S.T. Ockenner Auror

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    Tolkien did not invent modern fantasy. In fact, the fantasy genre had already existed for YEARS maybe even DECADES before Tolkien, beginning in the form of Swords & Sorcery, and some early High Fantasy.
    Here are some PRE-TOLKIEN Fantasy authors:
    George MacDonald (The Princess and the Goblin )
    William Morris, who wrote The Well at the World's End , which some believe to be the first High Fantasy novel
    Lewis Carroll (Alice In Wonderland)
    Robert E Howard (Conan The Barbarian)
     
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  10. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Maester

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    But Tolkien invented Fantasy! Everyone knows that... /s

    On a more serious note, no one can claim to have invented fantasy. We all stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. But there is a good argument for Tolkien being the father of modern high/epic fantasy. Though, that of course comes down to a definition of what modern fantasy actually is. I'll go with fantasy as we know it today.

    For starters, two of the tales you mentioned were childrens tales. And that is what much pre-Tolkien Fantasy was, children's tales. Conan was mainly novellete's published in magazines, not novels. Which doesn't mean they don't count, but it did limit the audience. I don't know the fourth, so I'll not comment.

    As for why Tolkien is the father of modern fantasy. His work defined the fantasy genre as we know it today. With his work, he codified what fantasy is. And for fantasy the decades between the publication of Lord of the Rings and 2000 were filled with either people trying to recreate Tolkien or a reaction to Tolkien. I think most of the tropes you find in fantasy in those years and today can be traced back to the Lord of the Rings.

    The Lord of the Rings also did something else. And that is show the world that Fantasy is a real and viable genre for adults. It showed that it was not just fairy-tales, children's stories and pulp tales. It made Fantasy main stream both for the readers and for publishers.

    I don't think you can find a western high / epic fantasy work today that is not influenced either by Tolkien directly, or by those who either copied him or reacted to him. And that is not something you can say about many other fantasy works. (Yes, technically you can say that about all the works which influenced Tolkien, but they lack the other two aspects I mentioned above, and those come together in Tolkien and from there he is the one writer from whom it branches out again)
     
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  11. S.T. Ockenner

    S.T. Ockenner Auror

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    Conan was definitely not a children's book. There were a lot of...non child appropriate things in it.

    Epic Fantasy, yes. High Fantasy, no. High Fantasy means it is set in an imagined fantasy world, which also describes a few earlier works.

    He is not canonly regarded as beginning modern fantasy. Again, you're thinking in terms of modern meaning 20th and 21st century, but the 19th century was modern too, and brought us the beginning of modern fantasy, with children's fantasy books, and Swords & Sorcery. I do agree that Tolkien made it much more popular and commercially viable, and inspired most authors after him, but he did not invent it, nor did he ever claim to.
     
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  12. Nighty_Knight

    Nighty_Knight Minstrel

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    How about William Morris? Not really arguing with what else you said, just wondering.
     
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  13. Insolent Lad

    Insolent Lad Maester

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    Quite arguably the inventor of High Fantasy as we know it today, a completely self-contained fantasy world with no reference to our own.

    As far as modern 'epic' fantasy goes, Eddison was certainly writing it before Tolkien. The Worm Ouroboros is an epic in every sense.
     
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  14. LAG

    LAG Minstrel

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    Oral fantasy is as old as humanity.
     
  15. S.T. Ockenner

    S.T. Ockenner Auror

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    Mythology is not Fantasy because it is religious. Would you call the Bible fantasy? No? Then don't call the ancient belief systems of humankind fantasy either.
     
  16. LAG

    LAG Minstrel

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    If a father tells his son: "Son, in that cave, there lives a three-headed monster, so don't go in there," he is creating a fantastical narrative. We did not live in those ages, yet surely every myth revolves around a tale. Science Fiction did not exist from the beginning, that's for sure, yet, with so many eons of human existence, storytelling for the sake of storytelling surely did. Today, we have a very minuscule amount of total human existence recorded over all those many thousands of years--myths and legends transcribed from ancient civs which developed methods of data retention. Most of what is recorded from those times is 'mainstream', and then we don't even touch upon human cultures without a written language. Look at San and Australian paintings of anthropomorphic creatures, fantastical events, and tell me how such art is 'mythical' but not fantasy.

    If you tell me that, for all the tens of thousands of years before the epic of Gilgamesh, and for a long time after that, humans did not invent fantastical tales to tell one another, I'd have to strongly disagree. The capability of artifice, narrative creation, and warping of reality for the sake of entertainment/moralizing did not suddenly pop up when Guttenberg set up his printing press, it has come with humanity all the way.

    One must not see the surface of the ocean and ignore the fact that mountains exist beneath the waves.
     
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  17. S.T. Ockenner

    S.T. Ockenner Auror

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    Sure, but the old stories about Zeus and Thor are not fantasy. They are religious texts.
     
  18. LAG

    LAG Minstrel

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    Never made a succinct statement about Greco-Roman/Germanic mythology. Aesop's fables are a good example of non-religious storytelling from that era. Homer's Iliad and Odyssey up there too. Merely because a work references figures who were viewed in a religious sense at the time does not mean that the entire work should be considered a myth and ipso facto without fantastic elements. I wasn't there when Homer wrote his works, and just because his tales have historical and religious tie-ins don't mean that they can't be considered fantastical.

    While the trails of Hercules had nationalistic and mythological meaning to the Grecians, Romans, and in a looser sense the Carthaginians, it doesn't mean that a rice farmer from the Qin Dynasty will not view them as pure fantasy and their own set of myths they grew up with as true.

    Anyway, lotsa folk in the thread said about the same as me on the ageless nature of such tales and I tend to agree with them. I'm out.
     
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  19. S.T. Ockenner

    S.T. Ockenner Auror

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    Thor is not Greco-Roman. Thor is Norse.
     
  20. LAG

    LAG Minstrel

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    Corrected to Germanic few minutes ago lol, missed it on first read : 3

    Interesting that further south Odin was named Wotan/Wodan ... far too little info on ancient germanic myths, bit more with the celts. Norse had their sagas, which in turn inspired Tolkien greatly. Wonder to what extent and when Norse and Celtic myths intermixed in the Germanic tribes, not much written about their pantheon compared to the Celts.
     
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