1. Steve Taylor says:

    I also read old books to my children and they love them. We are also fans of http://lamplighter.net/c/ and the work they do with bringing old books to life. Their audio theater is absolutely amazing and makes long car trips 100% better. Who is the real master? Whoever I’m reading at the moment I guess. 

    • Lamplighter does reprint a lot of books. I love the quality of their books… though the price point is often high. I’ve collected a number of books from the 1800’s and I always feel that I’m stealing a moment from the past whenever I read one.

  2. notleia says:

    Man, this makes me think of my half-finished review of one of George MacDonald’s books. I guess I’ll shoot it over here if/when it ever gets finished.
    But anyway, to take an English-major shot at the question of where modern fantasy comes from, we can trace it back to the Victorian fairy tales, like you did, and from there we can go further back to Grimm, or to the medieval tales like Marie de France’s <i>lais</i>, which in England originated from Celtic mythology. Tolkien and Lewis certainly made an impact into modern fantasy, but it’s hard to say where fairy tale ends and modern fantasy begins. MacDonald certainly did something similar to Tolkien and Lewis — heck, he was a direct influence to them — and he even blended fairy tale with everyday-life-ism, something like what some modern fantasy does (there’s another review I might have to write). But even from there, you can bring in Shakespeare as someone who did something more fantasy than strictly fairy tale, and while it’s extraordinarily easy to say Spenser wrote a fairy tale, it did have some features that look more like the medieval morality plays (not to mention political brown-nosing).
    Tolkien was also influenced by not-really-fairy-tales-but-along-the-same-line things like Norse sagas and myths. Granted, distinguishing myth and fairy tale takes a bit of quibbling. And then we can compare/contrast myths in general and stories in general and how they’re nearly the same thing.

  3. Henrietta Frankensee says:

    How about Rudyard Kipling writing from India and Rider Haggard writing from Africa?  The real masters sat around camp fires and invented while the wild animals scuffled and grunted just outside the fire glow.  The more we reach into the past and into other cultures the better we guard from the circling hunger of lowest common denominator commercialism.  And some of us write about the future!  Strange how humans twine in upon themselves.

  4. Kirsty says:

    I was listening to a radio program about the history of childhood, and apparently the invention of printing was looked on with suspicion by some because it would corrupt the youth. Inappropriate fantasy stories were one concern. 🙂

    • Kirsty, I had not heard that before but somehow it doesn’t surprise me. The concerns were well-founded in that many fantasy stories try to corrupt our thinking, but it’s interesting that the opposite is true as well; good fantasy stories mass printed are feeding us good values.

  5. Glad to see that you folks are picking up on similar thoughts to mine! It really is a fascinating journey when we look into the past. It helps us understand the present and I think we often miss that in the context of writing fantasy and science fiction. Interesting to note that science fiction was once a genre that encompassed what we now categorize as fantasy fiction. Really I think of most fantasy stories as modern fairy tales.

What do you think?