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Fantasy Literature

This guide is meant as brief pointer to the best in Fantasy Literature for scholarly research purposes.

What is Fantasy Literature


elf in moonlight castle dragon flying in forest


Elves. Knights. Dragons. Heroic Journeys. Vampires. Steampunk. Wizardry.

Fantasy literature is many things to many people. This is to say that it is a genre difficult to pin down with any specific qualities, and includes subgenres as well. Basically, fantasy is the creation of a world that does not exist in reality. Perhaps it may exist in the future, and this is permissible in the genre. Fantasy literature can fall under other names too: speculative fiction, literature of the fantastic, even science-fiction (the two often intertwine) are just a few.

image #1: Image by Victoria from Pixabay 

Image #2: Image by Kellie from Pixabay

Image #3: Image by Artie_Navarre from Pixabay

Researching Fantasy Literature

Many scholars and fantasy fans look to J.R.R. Tolkien and his high fantasy epic The Lord of the Rings as the starting point of modern fantasy. But, fantasy literature was being written before Tolkien wrote his seminal work. Writers that came before and likely inspired Tolkien include George MacDonald, Samuel Rutherford Crockett, and even science fiction writer H.G.Wells. The myths and faerie-tales that have inspired much modern fantasy literature date back to ancient times, such as Beowulf, as well as Scandinavian, Celtic, and Greek mythology. But fantasy literature has come a long way since those traditions, and Tolkien is just the beginning. Many great modern fantasy authors have emerged since Tolkien's time, and many within the last two decades.


Tips On Using Reference Resources

enchanted forest with mushrooms
Can't see the enchanted forest for the trees? Research may seem straightforward, but sometimes it helps to have a couple of tips for maximizing efficiency and success. Here are a few:
  • If you find a source you like, such as an encyclopedia or a book of literary criticism, check out the bibliography section. This points you to the sources the authors/editors of the reference work you are using, most of which you already know will be authoritative and relevant judging by their parent source.


  • If in doubt about where to find a reference work, or if the library you are at doesn't have what you are looking for, ask a reference librarian. They will be more than willing to assist you, either in finding an item at another branch, through PASCAL, or with Interlibrary Loan (ILL).

Image: Image by Brigitte Werner from Pixabay

cover art--Tolkien and the Invention of Myth
cover art- The Encyclopedia of Fantasy
cover art-- Haunted : on ghosts, witches, vampires, zombies, and other monsters of the natural and supernatural worlds
cover art--Vampyres : Lord Byron to Count Dracula

Online Reference Sources

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