Mostly about Fantasy genre: Special emphasis on Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and Deed of Paksennarion. Music, poetry and random ramblings. Actually, anything is up for grabs. Probably not politics, but everything else is fair game. Please ignore al
about time, too
Published on April 18, 2007 By Sugar High Elf In Books
As most of you know, I have a love of Fantasy Literature. However, no matter how I fight and say that fantasy literature is worth academic study, it is not a proper area of study for an English major. I have had to relegate Fantasy Literature to "pet project" and "hobby." I'm ok with this, as I love all kinds of literature and I fear that being forced to work at fantasy lit, I might grow to hate it.

This means that I needed to find a proper area to focus my studies on. Not being a fan of American lit, I have tended to focus on British lit. There's so much more variety and history to British lit, and is more fun to study. That still leaves too much to focus on -- I have to narrow it down to a century or literary period. For a long time, I have been torn between Neoclassicism and Romanticism. The wit and precision of the Neoclassics makes me happy, while the grand imaginative creative imagery of the Romantics really moves me. I'm not the genius that my favorite professor is... I cannot get a PhD in both.

But then, a solution! There's a part of the second half of the 18th century often referred to as "The Age of Sensibility" or "The Age of the Mad Poets" (I prefer the second title) or even the "Pre-Romantics". They come right in between the Neoclassic Augustan poets and the Romantics. I have been so excited by this literature. It even has flavors of Fantasy literature to it! I can easily see Tolkien getting some of his inspiration from these poets. They have the passion, they reach back to the bards of old, there is magic, ghosts, elves... everything a geek like me could wish for! I talked to my professor after class, and he was thrilled that I was so excited by this group of poets. He said not a lot of people go into this area, so I would be a rarity among scholars.

Now, I'm "wish-listing" collections from the poets of the age. I'm also going to post a few of my favorites, just so you all understand what I'm talking about. There's humor, wit, melancholy and magic. I'll offer one from Thomas Gray... mostly because he embodies the fullest sense of the sensibility poets. It's a parody of his own style entitled "Ode on the Death of a Favorite Cat, Drowned in a Tub of Gold Fishes"


"Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat,
Drowned in a Tub of Gold Fishes"
'Twas on a lofty vase's side,
Where China's gayest art had dyed
The azure flowers, that blow;
Demurest of the tabby kind,
The pensive Selima reclined,
Gazed on the lake below.
Her conscious tail her joy declared;
The fair round face, the snowy beard,
The velvet of her paws,
Her coat, that with the tortoise vies,
Her ears of jet, and emerald eyes,
She saw; and purred applause.
Still had she gazed; but 'midst the tide
Two angel forms were seen to glide,
The genii of the stream:
Their scaly armour's Tyrian hue
Through richest purple to the view
Betrayed a golden gleam.
The hapless nymph with wonder saw:
A whisker first and then a claw,
With many an ardent wish,
She stretched in vain to reach the prize.
What female heart can gold despise?
What cat's averse to fish?
Presumptuous maid! with looks intent
Again she stretched, again she bent,
Nor knew the gulf between.
(Malignant Fate sat by, and smiled)
The slippery verge her feet beguiled,
She tumbled headlong in.
Eight times emerging from the flood
She mewed to every watery god,
Some speedy aid to send.
No dolphin came, no Nereid stirred;
Nor cruel Tom, nor Susan heard.
A favourite has no friend!
From hence, ye beauties, undeceived,
Know, one false step is ne'er retrieved,
And be with caution bold.
Not all that tempts your wandering eyes
And heedless hearts, is lawful prize;
Nor all that glisters gold.


Comments
on Apr 18, 2007
You've got to go for Spanish lit . . . early 20th-century Spain has some of the most wonderful, melancholic books and poetry . . .
on Apr 18, 2007
Where would you recommend I start?
on Apr 18, 2007
I prefer my literature as a hobby more than a study...science is where I make my home....but if I had to do literary I'd go with Japanese literature, it's a highly interesting culture and their legends, stories, and poetry are interesting...not that I've read much of it, but I have seen those stories come to life in anime, movies, and the like...and usually books are better than movies...so I'm thinking it's probably good stuff.

~Zoo
on Apr 18, 2007
Where would you recommend I start?


Read my all-time favorite book by my all-time favorite author, Niebla by Miguel de Unamuno. (Oh yeah, that's Mist in English.) Or go for any of the poetry of Antonio Machado. Or any of the trilogy of great plays by Federico Garcia Lorca, "Yerma", "Blood Wedding", or "The House of Bernarda Alba". So, so good.
on Apr 18, 2007
I'm afraid books are my life -- my entire life. I collect rare books, I study fantasy as a hobby, and study a more classic cannon for a living. I am what the Germans call a Leseratte, a "reading rat".

I've never been a big fan of anime, but I have seen some very interesting studies into it. It may not be my cup of tea, but I can understand how other people would love it.

Thanks, SanC. Since I pretty much have May off, I'll take that as an opportunity to read some of your suggestions. I'll let you know what I think.
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