‘Fantasy doesn’t really relate to the real world.’ Thus Joanna Trollope, author of a reworking of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, is quoted in The Sunday Times (6/10/13) as saying. Fantasy stories, she also observes, give ‘little moral guidance’ to the young.1 While Trollope seems to be taking a narrow view of fantasy, confined to series such as Twilight and The Hunger Games that address teenagers, there is no doubt that children’s fiction presenting what might variously be termed as imaginary, make-believe, magic or mythic worlds has attracted censure from at least the eighteenth century. In spite of this, a number of writers and critics have argued that this perennially popular genre is in some instances the best or indeed the only way to express truths and perceptions that lie beyond consensus ‘reality’. A markedly contrasting view to that of Trollope was stated by Salman Rushdie in a BBC Television programme in 1990: ‘Fantasy is not escapism: it is a way of defining and dreaming the world.’2 Consistent with this more positive approach is the way in which fantasy is often used as a vehicle for psychological, philosophical or religious explorations, instead of the socio-historical data more appropriate to realistic fiction.
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