Who invented the modern fantasy genre?

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Sat Aug 21 09:42:15 EDT 2004


Dorian commented on some of the claims made in the article Charlie put forward:

>::SNORT::
>
>Credited *by whom*, I ask.

>> (Seems SD is about to published the first volume of the last quartet of
>the
>> Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, after a 25-year gap.) I haven't read him -
>> but I know some/most of you have. Did he add anything significant to the
>> Middle-earth mix? Enough to credit him with the invention of a genre?
>
>Hm.  He did the "person from the real world must save the fantasy land" - C.
>S. Lewis, for one, did it a lot earlier.

When trying to remember what fantasy I was reading in the late sixties (and
reluctantly leaving Peter S. Beagle out of it as having been rather ignored
by most people) I am reminded that Andre Norton's *Witch World* series got
going in, um 1963?  There was also Anne McCaffrey's Dragonlot, starting in
1970: she claims they're SF, but honestly, I think the early ones were pure
FantasyLand really.  That's just a bit before Thomas Covenant too, those
were 1977.  I'd say either of those two writers had more influence on what
got written later than Donaldson did.

>He did the "protag is deeply
>flawed and fucked up".  He did the "protag is a whiny creep".  Don't know if
>those last two were done earlier, though I daresay you could argue that
>various of Tolkien's characters could count as FAFU.

I think one could probably argue that at least one of the Witch World
second-generation characters was deeply flawed: she let the dark in to the
country they were trying to redeem, in a big way.  Norton certainly doesn't
write straightforward Good Guys In White Hats much, in those books: nearly
everyone has something within him- or herself that has to be conquered, as
well as the strife against evil that is going on all the time.

I don't know whether they'd count as "whiny creep"; some of the time,
certainly.  I have a feeling that having one's head turned into a scaled
monster's head with little prospect of it ever being turned back is almost
on a par with leprosy, too.

>I'm sure Donaldson has had an influence on the genre - but more influence
>than any other fantasy writer since Lord Dunsany?  I doubt it.

me too.

Minnow


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