VICTORIAN FANTASY LITERATURE: Literary Battles with Church and Empire
|Author: ||Michalson, Karen|
Examines the non-literary and non-aesthetic reasons underlying the bias in favor of realism in the formation of the traditional literary canon on nineteenth-century British fiction. Examines the role of the Anglican Church as well as that of Non-Conformist or Dissenting evangelical sects in the educational institutions of the first half of the century, and the function the academic study of English literature in British imperialist ideology in the latter part of the century. Demonstrates that both Church and Empire needed a canon of realism to promote their own brand of conservative ideology. Victorian fantasy writers often targeted Church doctrine or imperial dogma for especially satirical treatment, thus insuring their own exclusion from the universities which were run by the Church and operated to supply patriotic administrators to the Empire.
". . . a fascinating exploration of the origins of Victorian attitudes toward the fantastic, and how those attitudes were perpetuated through the educational system and the development of a literary establishment. . . . she's also provided a valuable missing chapter in the history of how the ideologies of realism have systematically brutalized the opposition -- and how they continue to do so today. In the last few years, a number of sf writers and fans have been rediscovering some of these writers -- Kipling in particular -- and they may want to check out Michalson's arguments. They'll find that although these arguments are complex, her style is refreshingly straightforward and free of critical cant." - Locus
"Her material is well-researched and cogently presented, and I find her willingness to discuss texts in terms of the cultural matrices in which they developed not only logical but admirable. . . . definitely an important look not only at major fantasy works of the period, but also at why realistic literature did make it into the canon and fantasy literature did not. Have your library purchase it." - SFRA Review