Having framed earlier chapters in terms of Lacan’s three orders, this one draws them together to reconsider how we discuss ‘fantasy’ and ‘realism’ as competing trends in children’s literature texts, as captured, for instance, in Geoffrey Summerfi eld’s Fantasy and Reason (1984). Though the lines of difference are now seen to have been rather artifi cially contrived, Iwant to suggest a more radical way of rethinking the divide between fantasy and realism. First, though, it is worth rehearsing the background, in which that ‘cursed Barbauld crew’ of Mrs Trimmer, Maria Edgeworth and others were seen to be waging a war against stories that were not rooted in the everyday world. The champions of imagination and fantasy were, of course, the Romantics, predominantly male authors who, like Wordsworth, wanted to hold on to the old, more fantastic tales:
Oh! give us once again the Wishing-Cap
Of Fortunatus, and the invisible Coat
Of Jack the Giant-killer, Robin Hood,
And Sabra in the forest with St. George!
The child, whose love is here, at least, doth reap
One precious gain, that he forgets himself.
(Wordsworth, ‘The Prelude’, Book 5, lines 364–9)