Fantasy literature

Fantasy literature is literature set in an imaginary universe, often but not always without any locations, events, or people from the real world. Magic, the supernatural and magical creatures are common in many of these imaginary worlds.It is a story that child and adults can read.

Fantasy is a subgenre of speculative fiction and is distinguished from the genres of science fiction and horror by the absence of scientific or macabre themes, respectively, though these genres overlap. Historically, most works of fantasy were written, however, since the 1960s, a growing segment of the fantasy genre has taken the form of films, television programs, graphic novels, video games, music and art.

A number of fantasy novels originally written for children, such as Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and The Hobbit, also attract an adult audience.



Stories involving magic and terrible monsters have existed in spoken forms before the advent of printed literature. Classical mythology is replete with fantastical stories and characters, the best known (and perhaps the most relevant to modern fantasy) being the works of Homer (Greek) and Virgil (Roman).[1] The contribution of the Greco-Roman world to fantasy is vast and includes: The hero's journey (also the figure of the chosen hero); magic gifts donated to win (including the ring of power as in the Gyges story contained in the Republic of Plato), prophecies (the oracle of Delphi), monsters and creatures (especially Dragons), magicians and witches with the use of magic.

The philosophy of Plato has had great influence on the fantasy genre. In the Christian Platonic tradition, the reality of other worlds, and an overarching structure of great metaphysical and moral importance, has lent substance to the fantasy worlds of modern works.[2] The world of magic is largely connected with the later Roman Greek world.

With Empedocles,(c. 490 – c. 430 BC) the elements, they are often used in fantasy works as personifications of the forces of nature.[3] Other than magic concerns include: the use of a mysterious tool endowed with special powers (the wand); the use of a rare magical herb; a divine figure that reveals the secret of the magical act.

India has a long tradition of fantastical stories and characters, dating back to Vedic mythology. The Panchatantra (Fables of Bidpai), which some scholars believe was composed around the 3rd century BC.[4] It is based on older oral traditions, including "animal fables that are as old as we are able to imagine".[5] was influential in Europe and the Middle East. It used various animal fables and magical tales to illustrate the central Indian principles of political science. Talking animals endowed with human qualities have now become a staple of modern fantasy.[6] The Baital Pachisi (Vikram and the Vampire), a collection of various fantasy tales set within a frame story is, according to Richard Francis Burton and Isabel Burton, the germ which culminated in the Arabian Nights, and which also inspired the Golden Ass of Apuleius, (2nd century A.D). Boccacio's Decamerone (c.1353) the Pentamerone (1634,1636) and all that class of facetious fictitious literature."[7]

The Book of One Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights) from the Middle East has been influential in the West since it was translated from the Arabic into French in 1704 by Antoine Galland.[8] Many imitations were written, especially in France.[9] Various characters from this epic have themselves become cultural icons in Western culture, such as Aladdin, Sinbad and Ali Baba.

The Fornaldarsagas, Norse and Icelandic sagas, both of which are based on ancient oral tradition influenced the German Romantics, as well as William Morris, and J. R. R. Tolkien.[10] The Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf has also had deep influence on the fantasy genre; although it was unknown for centuries and so not developed in medieval legend and romance, several fantasy works have retold the tale, such as John Gardner's Grendel.[11]

Celtic folklore and legend has been an inspiration for many fantasy works.[12] The Welsh tradition has been particularly influential, owing to its connection to King Arthur and its collection in a single work, the epic Mabinogion.[12] One influential retelling of this was the fantasy work of Evangeline Walton.[13] The Irish Ulster Cycle and Fenian Cycle have also been plentifully mined for fantasy.[12] Its greatest influence was, however, indirect. Celtic folklore and mythology provided a major source for the Arthurian cycle of chivalric romance: the Matter of Britain. Although the subject matter was heavily reworked by the authors, these romances developed marvels until they became independent of the original folklore and fictional, an important stage in the development of fantasy.[14]

From the 13th century

Romance or chivalric romance is a type of prose and verse narrative that was popular in the aristocratic circles of High Medieval and Early Modern Europe. They were fantastic stories about marvel-filled adventures, often of a knight-errant portrayed as having heroic qualities, who goes on a quest, yet it is "the emphasis on love and courtly manners distinguishes it from the chanson de geste and other kinds of epic, in which masculine military heroism predominates."[15] Popular literature also drew on themes of romance, but with ironic, satiric or burlesque intent. Romances reworked legends, fairy tales, and history to suit the readers' and hearers' tastes, but by c. 1600 they were out of fashion, and Miguel de Cervantes famously burlesqued them in his novel Don Quixote. Still, the modern image of "medieval" is more influenced by the romance than by any other medieval genre, and the word medieval evokes knights, distressed damsels, dragons, and other romantic tropes.[16]

Originally, romance literature was written in Old French, Anglo-Norman, Occitan, and Provençal, and later in Portuguese, in Castilian, in English, in Italian (particularly with the Sicilian poetry) and German. During the early 13th century, romances were increasingly written as prose. In later romances, particularly those of French origin, there is a marked tendency to emphasize themes of courtly love, such as faithfulness in adversity.


At the time of the Renaissance romance continued to be popular. The trend was to more fantastic fiction. The English Le Morte d'Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory (c.1408–1471), was written in prose; this work dominates the Arthurian literature.[17] Arthurian motifs have appeared steadily in literature from its publication, though the works have been a mix of fantasy and non-fantasy works.[18] At the time, it and the Spanish Amadis de Gaula (1508), (also prose) spawned many imitators, and the genre was popularly well-received, producing such masterpiece of Renaissance poetry as Ludovico Ariosto's Orlando furioso and Torquato Tasso's Gerusalemme Liberata. Ariosto's tale, many marvels, and adventures, was a source text for many fantasies of adventure.[19] During the Renaissance Giovanni Francesco Straparola wrote and published The Facetious Nights of Straparola(1550-1555), a collection of stories, many of which are literary fairy tales Giambattista Basile wrote and published the Pentamerone a collection of literary fairy tales, the first collection of stories to contain solely the stories later to be known as fairy tales. Both of these works includes the oldest recorded form of many well-known (and more obscure) European fairy tales.[20] This was the beginning of a tradition that would both influence the fantasy genre and be incorporated in it, as many works of fairytale fantasy appear to this day.[21]

William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream (1594/5), the Weird Sisters in Macbeth and Prospero in The Tempest (or Doctor Faustus in Christopher Marlowe's play) would be deeply influential on later works of fantasy.

In a work on alchemy in the 16th century, Paracelsus (1493 – 1541) identified four types of beings with the four elements of alchemy: gnomes, earth elementals; undines, water elementals; sylphs, air elementals; and salamanders, fire elementals.[22] Most of these beings are found in folklore as well as alchemy; their names are often used interchangeably with similar beings from folklore.[23]


Literary fairy tales, such as were written by Charles Perrault (1628 – 1703), and Madame d'Aulnoy ((c.1650 - 1705)), became very popular, early in the Age of Enlightenment. Many of Perrault's tales became fairy tale staples, and influenced latter fantasy as such. Indeed, when Madame d'Aulnoy termed her works contes de fée (fairy tales), she invented the term that is now generally used for the genre, thus distinguishing such tales from those involving no marvels.[24] This influenced later writers, who took up the folk fairy tales in the same manner, in the Romantic era.[25]

Several fantasies aimed at an adult readership were also published in 18th century France, including Voltaire's "contes philosophique" "The Princess of Babylon" (1768) and "The White Bull" (1774).[26]

This era, however, was notably hostile to fantasy. Writers of the new types of fiction such as Defoe, Richardson, and Fielding were realistic in style, and many early realistic works were critical of fantasical elements in fiction.[27]


Romanticism, a movement of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, was a dramatic reaction to rationalism, challenging the priority of reason and promoting the importance of imagination and spirituality. Its success in rehabilitating imagination was of fundamental importance to the evolution of fantasy, and its interest in medieval romances providing many motifs to modern fantasy.[28]

The Romantics invoked the medieval romance as justification for the works they wanted to produce, in distinction from the realistic pressure of the Enlightenment; these were not always fantastic, sometimes being merely unlikely to happen, but the justification was used even from fantasy.[29] One of the first literary results of this fascinations was Gothic novel, a literary genre that began in Britain with The Castle of Otranto (1764) by Horace Walpole, which is the predecessor to both modern fantasy and modern horror fiction .[25] One noted Gothic novel which also contains a large amount of fantasy elements (derived from the "Arabian Nights") is Vathek (1786) by William Thomas Beckford.[30]

In the later part of the Romantic tradition, in reaction to the spirit of the Enlightenment, folklorists collected folktales, epic poems, and ballads, and brought them out in printed form. The Brothers Grimm were inspired in their collection, Grimm's Fairy Tales, (1812) by the movement of German Romanticism. Many other collectors were inspired by the Grimms and the similar sentiments. Frequently their motives stemmed not merely from Romanticism, but from Romantic nationalism, in that many were inspired to save their own country's folklore: sometimes, as in the Kalevala, they compiled existing folklore into an epic to match other nation's; sometimes, as in Ossian, (1760) they fabricated folklore that should have been there. These works, whether fairy tale, ballads, or folk epics, were a major source for later fantasy works.[31]

The Romantic interest in medievalism also resulted in a revival of interest in the literary fairy tale. The tradition begun with Giovanni Francesco Straparola ((ca. 1485?-1558) )and Giambattista Basile (1566 – 1632) and developed by the Charles Perrault(1628 – 1703) and the French précieuses, was taken up by the German Romantic movement. Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué created medieval-set stories such as Undine (1811)[32] and Sintram and his Companions (1815) which would later inspire British writers such as MacDonald and Morris.[33][34] E. T. A. Hoffmann's tales, such as "The Golden Pot" (1814) and "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King" (1816) were notable additions to the canon of German fantasy. [35] Ludwig Tieck's collection Phantasus (1812-1817) contained several short fairy tales, including "The Elves".[36]

In France, the main writers of Romantic-era fantasy were Charles Nodier, with Smarra (1821) and Trilby (1822) [37][38] and Théophile Gautier in stories such as "Omphale" (1834) and "One of Cleopatra's Nights" (1838), and the later novel Spirite (1866).[39][40]

Victorian era

Fantasy literature was popular in Victorian times, with the works of writers such as Mary Shelley (1797 – 1851), William Morris and George MacDonald, and Charles Dodgson, author of Alice in Wonderland (1865).

Hans Christian Andersen (1805 – 1875) initiated a new style of fairy tales, original tales told in seriousness.[41] From this origin, John Ruskin wrote The King of the Golden River (1851), a fairy tale that uses new levels of characterization, creating in the South-West Wind an irascible but kindly character similar to the Tolkien's later Gandalf.[41]

The history of modern fantasy literature begins with George MacDonald (1824 – 1905), author of such novels as The Princess and the Goblin (1868) and Phantastes (1868) the latter of which is widely considered to be the first fantasy novel ever written for adults. MacDonald also wrote one of the first critical essays about the fantasy genre, "The Fantastic Imagination", in his book A Dish of Orts (1893).[42][43] MacDonald was a major influence on both J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis.[44]

The other major fantasy author of this era was William Morris (1834 – 1896), a socialist, an admirer of Middle Ages, a reviver of British handcrafts and a poet, who wrote several fantastic romances and novels in the latter part of the century, of which the most famous was The Well at the World's End (1896). He was deeply inspired by the medieval romances and sagas; his style was deliberately archaic, based on medieval romances.[45] In many respects, Morris was an important milestone in the history of fantasy, because, while other writers wrote of foreign lands, or of dream worlds, Morris's works were the first to be set in an entirely invented world: a fantasy world.[46]

Authors such as Edgar Allan Poe (1809 – 1849) and Oscar Wilde (in The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1890) also developed fantasy, in the telling of horror tales,[47] a separate branch of fantasy that was to have great influence on H. P. Lovecraft and other writers of dark fantasy. Wilde also wrote a large number of children's fantasies, collected in The Happy Prince and Other Stories (1888) and A House of Pomegranates (1891).[48]

H. Rider Haggard developed the conventions of the Lost World subgenre with King Solomon's Mines (1885), which sometime included fantasy works as in Haggard's own She.[49] With Africa still largely unknown to European writers, it offered scope to this type.[49] Other writers, including Edgar Rice Burroughs and Abraham Merritt, built on the convention.

Several classic children's fantasies such as Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland (1865),[50] J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan (1906), L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900), as well as the work of E. Nesbit (1858 – 1924)) and Frank R. Stockton (1834 – 1902)) were also published around this time.[51] Indeed, C. S. Lewis noted that in the earlier part of the 20th century, fantasy was more accepted in juvenile literature, and therefore a writer interested in fantasy often wrote in it to find an audience, despite concepts that could form an adult work.[52]

At this time, the terminology for the genre was not settled. Many fantasies in this era were termed fairy tales, including Max Beerbohm's "The Happy Hypocrite" (1896) and MacDonald's Phantastes.[53] It was not until 1923 that the term "fantasist" was used to describe a writer (in this case, Oscar Wilde) who wrote fantasy fiction.[54] The name "fantasy" was not developed until later; as late as J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit (1937), the term "fairy tale" was still being used.

After 1901

An important factor in the development of the fantasy genre was the arrival of magazines devoted to fantasy fiction. The first such publication was the German magazine Der Orchideengarten which ran from 1919-1921.[55] In 1923, the first English-language fantasy fiction magazine, Weird Tales, was created.[56] Many other similar magazines eventually followed.[57] and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction [58] The pulp magazine format was at the height of its popularity at this time and was instrumental in bringing fantasy fiction to a wide audience in both the U.S. and Britain. Such magazines also played a large role in the rise of science fiction and it was at this time the two genres began to be associated with each other. Several of the genre's most prominent authors began their careers in these magazines, including Clark Ashton Smith, Fritz Leiber, Ray Bradbury and H. P. Lovecraft.

H. P. Lovecraft was deeply influenced by Edgar Allan Poe and to a somewhat lesser extent, by Lord Dunsany; with his Cthulhu Mythos stories, he became one of the most influential writers of fantasy and horror in the 20th century.[59]

Despite MacDonald's future influence, and Morris' popularity at the time, it was not until around the start of the 20th century that fantasy fiction began to reach a large audience, with authors such as Lord Dunsany (1878 – 1957) who, following Morris's example, wrote fantasy novels, but also in the short story form.[45] He was particularly noted for his vivid and evocative style.[45] His style greatly influenced many writers, not always happily; Ursula K. Le Guin, in her essay on style in fantasy "From Elfland to Poughkeepsie", wryly referred to Lord Dunsany as the "First Terrible Fate that Awaiteth Unwary Beginners in Fantasy", alluding to young writers attempting to write in Lord Dunsany's style.[60] According to S. T. Joshi, "Dunsany's work had the effect of segregating fantasy—a mode whereby the author creates his own realm of pure imagination—from supernatural horror. From the foundations he established came the later work of E. R. Eddison, Mervyn Peake, and J. R. R. Tolkien.[61]

In Britain in the aftermath of World War I, a notably large number of fantasy books aimed at an adult readership were published, including Living Alone (1919) by Stella Benson,[62] A Voyage to Arcturus (1920) by David Lindsay,[63] Lady into Fox (1922) by David Garnett,[62] Lud-in-the-Mist (1926) by Hope Mirrlees,[62][64] and Lolly Willowes (1926) by Sylvia Townsend Warner.[62][65] E. R. Eddison was another influential writer, wrote during this era. He drew inspiration from Northern sagas, as Morris did, but his prose style was modeled more on Tudor and Elizabethan English, and his stories were filled with vigorous characters in glorious adventures.[46] Eddison's most famous work is The Worm Ouroboros (1922), a long heroic fantasy set on an imaginary version of the planet Mercury.[66]

Literary critics of the era began to take an interest in "fantasy" as a genre of writing, and also to argue that it was a genre worthy of serious consideration. Herbert Read devoted a chapter of his book English Prose Style (1928) to discussing "Fantasy" as an aspect of literature, arguing it was unjustly considered suitable only for children: "The Western World does not seem to have conceived the necessity of Fairy Tales for Grown-Ups".[43]

In 1938, with the publication of The Sword in the Stone, T. H. White introduced one of the most notable works of comic fantasy.[67]

J. R. R. Tolkien played a large role in the popularization and accessibility of the fantasy genre with his highly successful publications The Hobbit (1937) and The Lord of the Rings (1954–55).[68] Tolkien was largely influenced by an ancient body of Anglo-Saxon myths, particularly Beowulf, as well as E. R. Eddison's 1922 novel, The Worm Ouroboros. Tolkien's close friend C. S. Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia (1950-56) and a fellow English professor with a similar array of interests, also helped to publicize the fantasy genre.

The tradition established by these predecessors of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries has continued to thrive and be adapted by new authors. The influence of J.R.R. Tolkien's fiction has—particularly over the genre of high fantasy—prompted a reaction.[69] Works of metafictional fantasy were published in the late twentieth century, that self-consciously allude to the history and literary conventions of the genre, including Terry Pratchett's Discworld series (1983-2015), and Neil Gaiman's Stardust (1999).

At the turn of the millennium, the Harry Potter novels of J. K. Rowling, which chronicle the life of a young wizard, achieved widespread popularity.

It is not uncommon for fantasy novels to be ranked on The New York Times Best Seller list, and some have been at number one on the list, including most recently, Brandon Sanderson in 2014,[70] George R. R. Martin in 2011,[71] Neil Gaiman in 2013,[72] Terry Goodkind in 2006 [73] and Patrick Rothfuss in 2011.[74]


Capa de O Baú do Rei
Capa de O Baú do Rei

Symbolism often plays a significant role in fantasy literature, often through the use of archetypal figures inspired by earlier texts or folklore. Some argue that fantasy literature and its archetypes fulfill a function for individuals and society and the messages are continually updated for current societies.[75]

Ursula K. Le Guin, in her essay "From Elfland to Poughkeepsie", presented the idea that language is the most crucial element of high fantasy, because it creates a sense of place. She analyzed the misuse of a formal, "olden-day" style, saying that it was a dangerous trap for fantasy writers because it was ridiculous when done wrong. She warns writers away from trying to base their style on that of masters such as Lord Dunsany and E. R. Eddison,[76] emphasizing that language that is too bland or simplistic creates the impression that the fantasy setting is simply a modern world in disguise, and presents examples of clear, effective fantasy writing in brief excerpts from Tolkien and Evangeline Walton.[77]

Michael Moorcock observed that many writers use archaic language for its sonority and to lend color to a lifeless story.[78] Brian Peters writes that in various forms of fairytale fantasy, even the villain's language might be inappropriate if vulgar.[79]

At the turn of the millennium, the Harry Potter young adult urban fantasy novels of J. K. Rowling achieved widespread popularity by combining fantasy with realism, and exploring a variety of contemporary themes, including coming of age, prejudice, the loss of innocence, impending war, political corruption, death, depression, love, loss, and discrimination. This is one of the few, if only, examples of a literature-sourced, multimedia entertainment brand.

See also


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  2. ^ Prickett, Stephen (1979). Victorian Fantasy. Indiana University Press. p. 229. ISBN 0-253-17461-9.
  3. ^ John Grant and John Clute, The Encyclopedia of Fantasy, "Elemental" p 313-4, ISBN 0-312-19869-8
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Allan Quatermain

Allan Quatermain is the protagonist of H. Rider Haggard's 1885 novel King Solomon's Mines and its sequels. Allan Quatermain was also the title of a book in this sequence. An English big game hunter and adventurer, in film and television he has been portrayed by Richard Chamberlain, Sean Connery, Cedric Hardwicke, Patrick Swayze and Stewart Granger among others.

Black Gate (magazine)

Black Gate was a glossy fantasy magazine and published by New Epoch Press. Using the slogan "Adventures in Fantasy Literature," Black Gate primarily featured original short fiction up to novella length.

In addition to fiction, Black Gate also featured reviews of fantasy novels, graphic novels, and role playing game products. This was supplemented by columns and articles reflecting on fantasy literature's past as well as the occasional interview. Every issue contained the comic Knights of the Dinner Table: Java Joint by Kenzer & Company of Knights of the Dinner Table fame.

Much of the fiction was by lesser known or new authors, but noted contributors have included Michael Moorcock, Mike Resnick, Charles de Lint and Cory Doctorow. As a semi-regular feature, Black Gate reprinted rare adventure stories from earlier decades or work from more recent years that the editors feel has been neglected. For instance, issues featured serialized Tumithak novels from Charles R. Tanner.

While officially a quarterly publication, it was never produced on a reliable schedule. Its 15th and (to date) final issue was published in 2011.


Bunduki is a 1975 novel by J. T. Edson, and the first work in the Bunduki series that followed. The series involves characters related to Tarzan and was initially authorized by the estate of Edgar Rice Burroughs. In the opening of the novel the main protagonists are transported from Earth to Zillikian (see below).

Conan (Marvel Comics)

Conan is a fictional character based on Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian. He was introduced to the comic book world in 1970 with Conan the Barbarian, written by Roy Thomas, illustrated by Barry Smith and published by Marvel Comics.

The highly successful Conan the Barbarian series spawned the more adult, black-and-white Savage Sword of Conan in 1974 (published as part of Marvel's line of black-and-white magazines). Written by Thomas with most art by John Buscema or Alfredo Alcala, Savage Sword of Conan soon became one of the most popular comic series of the 1970s and is now considered a cult classic.

The Marvel Conan stories were also adapted as a newspaper comic strip which appeared daily and Sunday from September 4, 1978, to April 12, 1981. Originally written by Thomas and illustrated by Buscema, the strip was continued by several different Marvel artists and writers.

Marvel ceased publishing all Conan titles in 2000. In 2003, Dark Horse Comics acquired the license to publish the character. In 2018, Marvel reacquired the rights and started new runs of both Conan the Barbarian and Savage Sword of Conan in January/February 2019.

Dirk Gently

Dirk Gently (born Svlad Cjelli, also known as Dirk Cjelli) is a fictional character created by English writer Douglas Adams and featured in the books Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency and The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul. He is portrayed as a pudgy man who normally wears a heavy old light brown suit, red checked shirt with a green striped tie, long leather coat, red hat and thick metal-rimmed spectacles. "Dirk Gently" is not the character's real name. It is noted early on in the first book that it is a pseudonym for "Svlad Cjelli". Dirk himself states that the name has a "Scottish dagger feel" to it.

Doctor Dolittle

Doctor John Dolittle is the central character of a series of children's books by Hugh Lofting starting with the 1920 The Story of Doctor Dolittle. He is a doctor who shuns human patients in favour of animals, with whom he can speak in their own languages. He later becomes a naturalist, using his abilities to speak with animals to better understand nature and the history of the world.Doctor Dolittle first appeared in the author's illustrated letters to his children, written from the trenches during World War I when actual news, he later said, was either too horrible or too dull. The stories are set in early Victorian England, where Doctor John Dolittle lives in the fictional English village of Puddleby-on-the-Marsh in the West Country.Doctor Dolittle has a few close human friends, including Tommy Stubbins and Matthew Mugg, the Cats'-Meat Man. The animal team includes Polynesia (a parrot), Gub-Gub (a pig), Jip (a dog), Dab-Dab (a duck), Chee-Chee (a monkey), Too-Too (an owl), the Pushmi-pullyu, and a white mouse later named simply "Whitey".

Fantastic art

Fantastic art is a broad and loosely defined art genre. It is not restricted to a specific school of artists, geographical location or historical period. It can be characterised by subject matter – which portrays non-realistic, mystical, mythical or folkloric subjects or events – and style, which is representational and naturalistic, rather than abstract - or in the case of magazine illustrations and similar, in the style of graphic novel art such as manga.

Fantasy has been an integral part of art since its beginnings, but has been particularly important in mannerism, magic realist painting, romantic art, symbolism, surrealism and lowbrow. In French, the genre is called le fantastique, in English it is sometimes referred to as visionary art, grotesque art or mannerist art. It has had a deep and circular interaction with fantasy literature.

The subject matter of Fantastic Art may resemble the product of hallucinations, and Fantastic artist Richard Dadd spent much of his life in mental institutions. Salvador Dalí famously said: "the only difference between me and a madman is that I am not mad". Some recent Fantastic Art draws on the artist's experience, or purported experience, of hallucinogenic drugs.

The term Fantasy Art is closely related, and is applied primarily to recent art (typically 20th century onwards) inspired by, or illustrating, fantasy literature. The term has acquired some pejorative overtones.

Fantastic art has traditionally been largely confined to painting and illustration, but since the 1970s has increasingly been found also in photography. Fantastic art explores fantasy, imagination, the dream state, the grotesque, visions and the uncanny, as well as so-called "Goth" art.

Fantasy of manners

The fantasy of manners is a subgenre of fantasy literature that also partakes of the nature of a comedy of manners (though it is not necessarily humorous). Such works generally take place in an urban setting and within the confines of a fairly elaborate, and almost always hierarchical, social structure. The term was first used in print by science fiction critic Donald G. Keller in an article, The Manner of Fantasy, in the April, 1991 issue of The New York Review of Science Fiction; author Ellen Kushner has said that she suggested the term to Keller. The subgenre, or a close relative to it, has also been called mannerpunk, a tongue-in-cheek reference to the cyberpunk subgenre of science fiction.

Gandalf Award

The Gandalf Awards, honoring achievement in fantasy literature, were conferred by the World Science Fiction Society annually from 1974 to 1981. They were named for Gandalf the wizard, from the Middle-earth stories by J. R. R. Tolkien. The award was created and sponsored by Lin Carter and the Swordsmen and Sorcerers' Guild of America (SAGA), an association of fantasy writers. Recipients were selected by vote of participants in the World Science Fiction Conventions according to procedures of the older Hugo Awards.The awards were presented in two categories, for life achievement and for a book published during the preceding year. Their primary purpose continues to be fulfilled by two of the once-rival World Fantasy Awards, first presented in 1975—specifically the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement and World Fantasy Award for Best Novel.


A gnome is a diminutive spirit in Renaissance magic and alchemy, first introduced by Paracelsus in the 16th century and later adopted by more recent authors including those of modern fantasy literature. Its characteristics have been reinterpreted to suit the needs of various story tellers, but it is typically said to be a small humanoid that lives underground.

Hard fantasy

Hard fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy literature that strives to present stories set in (and often centered on) a rational and knowable world. Hard fantasy is similar to hard science fiction, from which it draws its name, and hard magic, in that they all aim to build their respective worlds in a rigorous and logical manner. Where hard science fiction uses real scientific principles as its starting point, hard fantasy postulates starting conditions that do not, and often cannot, exist according to current scientific understanding.Unlike that of its sister genre, the definition of hard fantasy is amorphous in practice. Some instances of the genre feature alternative geography and cultures without the presence of magic or supernatural creatures (such as dragons and elves), typically found in other fantasy settings. Other hard-fantasy settings may feature those elements but with a detailed and plausible explanation for their existence.

The hard aspect of hard fantasy can refer to different elements. It can refer to a consistent history and folklore, as seen in Lord of the Rings, well-defined magic systems as seen in Mistborn or The Name of the Wind, and is sometimes also applied to A Song of Ice and Fire for its detailed political setting, and hard consequences for protagonists' mistakes.

Harry D'Amour

Harry D'Amour is a fictional character created by author, filmmaker, and artist Clive Barker.

D'Amour is an occult detective, a private investigator who specializes in cases involving the occult. His body is marked heavily by tattoos that confer protection against evil.

High fantasy

High fantasy or epic fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy, defined either by the epic nature of its setting or by the epic stature of its characters, themes, or plot. The term "high fantasy" was coined by Lloyd Alexander in a 1971 essay, "High Fantasy and Heroic Romance" (originally given at the New England Round Table of Children's Librarians in October 1969).


Jad-bal-ja, the Golden Lion is a fictional character in Edgar Rice Burroughs's Tarzan novels, and in adaptations of the saga to other media, particularly comics.

Juvenile fantasy

Juvenile fantasy is children's literature with fantasy elements: fantasy intended for readers not yet adult.

The protagonists are usually children or teens who have unique abilities, gifts, possessions or even allies that allow them to face powerful adversaries. Harry Potter is a powerful young wizard, one of the children of The Dark Is Rising series is an immature Old One with magical abilities, and in the His Dark Materials series the children have magical items and animal allies. The plot frequently incorporates a bildungsroman.

In the earlier part of the 20th century, C. S. Lewis noted that fantasy was more accepted in juvenile literature, and therefore a writer interested in fantasy often wrote in it to find an audience.

Magician (fantasy)

A magician also known as a mage, warlock, witch, wizard, enchanter/enchantress, or sorcerer/sorceress, is someone who uses or practices magic derived from supernatural, occult, or arcane sources. Magicians are common figures in works of fantasy, such as fantasy literature and role-playing games, and enjoy a rich history in mythology, legends, fiction, and folklore.

Medieval fantasy

Medieval fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy that encompasses the Middle Ages as well as sometimes and simply represents fictitious versions of historic events. This subgenre is common among role-playing games, text-based roleplaying, and high-fantasy literature. It can include various elements of Middle Ages European culture and society, including a monarchical government, feudal social structure, medieval warfare, and mythical entities common in European folklore.


Nkima is a fictional character in Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan novels, and in adaptations of the saga to other media, particularly comics.

His name comes from either the word N'kima ('monkey' in the Mbugu language, a regional corruption of Swahili), or, after the Meru language nickname for Ugali, a dish popular in Kenya and Tanzania made from maize flour (if the latter, it would be similar to a European giving a child the nickname 'donut' -- a playful, condescending-yet-benevolent term of endearment).

The King of the Elves

"The King of the Elves" is a fantasy short story by American writer Philip K. Dick, first published in the September 1953 issue of Beyond Fantasy Fiction.

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