Elizabeth and John talk about fantasy’s power of world-making with Edinburgh professor Anna Vaninskaya, author of William Morris and the Idea of Community: Romance, History and Propaganda, 1880-1914 ( 2010) and Fantasies of Time and Death: Dunsany, Eddison, Tolkien ( 2020). Anna uncovers the melancholy sense of displacement and loss running through Tolkien, and links his notion of “subcreation” to an often concealed theological vision. Not allegory but “application” is praised as a way of reading fantasy.
John asks about hopeful visions of the radical politics of fantasy (Le Guin, but also Graeber and Wengrow’s recent work); Elizabeth stresses that fantasy’s appeal is at once childish and childlike. E. Nesbit surfaces, as she tends to in RtB conversations. The question of film TV and other visual modes comes up: is textual fantasy on the way out?
Mentioned in the Episode:
David Graeber and David Wengrow, The Dawn of Everything.
James Gifford, The Radical Fantastic
E. Nesbit The Phoenix and the Carpet
Lord Dunsany, King of Elfland’s Daughter
Ursula Le Guin The Books of Earthsea
Lloyd Alexander Chronicles of Prydain
N. K. Jemisin, The Fifth Season
Upcoming episodes: We return to a delightful conversation John and Gina had with Madeline Miller, author of Circe. In May, we return to poetry to round out the spring season: John and Ulka Anajaria chat with brilliant poet, translator and memoirist Rajiv Mohabir.