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Problems in generic classification : toward a definition of fantasy fiction /

by Melissa Ellen Barth.

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Main Author: Barth, Melissa Ellen.
Published: 1981.
Topics: Fantasy fiction - History and criticism. | Fantasy in literature. | Science fiction - History and criticism. | Tolkien, J. R. R. (John Ronald Reuel), 1892-1973 - Criticism and interpretation.
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008 830526s1981 xx rbm 000 0 eng d
035 |a(OCoLC)ocm09550157
040 |aCRU|beng|cCRU|dOCL|dOCLCQ|dICW|dWHEdb
049 |aICWW
050 4|aPN56.F34|bB37 1983
100 1 |aBarth, Melissa Ellen.
245 10|aProblems in generic classification :|btoward a definition of fantasy fiction /|cby Melissa Ellen Barth.
260 |c1981.
300 |avii, 245 leaves ;|c28 cm.
500 |aReferences to C.S. Lewis (p. 63-64), George MacDonald (p. 118-122), and J.R.R. Tolkien (p. 7-35, 44, 164-169).
500 |aVita.
502 |aThesis (Ph. D.)--Purdue University, 1981.
504 |aIncludes bibliographical references.
520 3 |aThe primary concern of this study is to provide a methodology for identifying those texts belonging to the genre I label fabulation. Although the approach in part relies on the apparatus of structuralist criticism, it is not intended to be simply a structural analysis of the genre. Structural analysis is used as a starting point in the discussions of key generic elements in order to make these elements more readily visible to someone reading my argument. Three major aspects are considered as significant generic markers: causation, narrative structure, and patterns of closure. The first chapter, "Arresting Strangeness: The Ontological Nature of Fabulation," introduces the problem of genre classification. More importantly, however, it provides a synthetic overview of seven writers on the genre fabulation: J.R.R. Tolkien, C.N. Manlove, W.R. Irwin, Eric S. Rabkin, Tzvetan Todorov, Witold Ostrowski, and Jane Mobley. These critics are studied in order to identify a basic but unarticulated concern in their writings with a fundamental marker of fabulation: foregrounding the nature of the textual ontos. Chapter Two, "Cause and Effect: A Generic Paradigm," is a presentation of the paradigm I develop to account for the six types of causation a fabulated text may exhibit. All six are discussed in light of Vladimir Propp's formalist conception of function. Each causal principle is also studied by means of a sample text drawn from the level of formula fiction. Formula fiction provides the models because it is at this level that it is the easiest to identify generic markers. The third chapter, "The Quest for Understanding: Narrative Strategies," considers the ways in which fabulated texts provide the implied reader with the information he will need to understand the ontology of the text and the causal principles that control the events therein. The discussion centers on two methods of exposition: the open form (in which information concerning the textual ontos is not concealed from the reader) and the delayed form (in which the nature of the textual ontos is not revealed fully until the text's conclusion). Narrative patterns must be considered in this study of genre because they are one of the primary means by which the text acquaints its implied reader with the ontological nature of the fabulated world. Similarly, the fourth chapter, "The Quest for Certainty: Patterns of Closure," studies five forms of what I call absolute closure because the pattern of closure the text employs also provides an implied reader with pertinent information about the ontological nature of the fabulated text and about the causal principles controlling that ontos. Each pattern of absolute closure is illustrated by means of a sample text. In addition to absolute closure, I identify another variety which I label expanding closure. Chapter Five, "Breaking Form: Metafictional Fabulation," disucusses expanding closure as well as other aspects of this most extreme form of fabulation. Metafictional fabulation is the label I use to describe those fabulated texts that never make the nature of the textual ontology clear to the reader. In other words, metafictional fabulations refuse to give conclusive answers to the central questions of the genre: "What do I know?" (ontology) and "How do I know?" (epistemology). I argue that these texts do not escape the boundaries of the genre fabulation but rather expand them to include both concerns with the nature of the textual ontos and the manner by which the reader attempts to make sense of that textual world.
533 |aFacsimile.|bAnn Arbor, Mich. :|cUniversity Microfilms International,|d1987.|evii, 245 p. ; 22 cm.
541 1 |e87/138|5IlWtMWC
600 10|aTolkien, J. R. R.|q(John Ronald Reuel),|d1892-1973|xCriticism and interpretation.
650 0|aFantasy fiction|xHistory and criticism.
650 0|aFantasy in literature.
650 0|aScience fiction|xHistory and criticism.
696 10|aTolkien, J. R. R.|q(John Ronald Reuel),|d1892-1973|xCriticism and interpretation.
710 2 |aWheaton College (Ill.).|bMarion E. Wade Center.|5IlWtMWC
994 |aC0|bICW

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