Fantasy: The Literature of Subversion  

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"Only the perverse fantasy can still save us."--Goethe

"Literature of the fantastic is concerned to describe desire in its excessive forms as well as in its various transformations or perversions."--Todorov

"When our eye sees a monstrous deed, our soul stands still."--Fassbinder

"The only thing you can do if you are trapped in a reflection is to invert the image."--Juliet Mitchell

--epigraphs to Fantasy: The Literature of Subversion (1981) by Rosemary Jackson


"It is as though 'the limited nature of space', to which Kant referred in his Distinctions of Regions in Space (1768), had inserted into it an additional dimension, where 'incongruent counterparts' can co-exist and where that transformation Kant called 'a turning over of a left hand into a right hand' can be effected."--Fantasy: The Literature of Subversion (1981) by Rosemary Jackson


"I should like to combine every species [je veux réunir tous les genres]."--Philosophy in the Bedroom (1795) by Marquis de Sade

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Fantasy: The Literature of Subversion (1981) is a literary study of fantastic literature by Rosemary Jackson. On the cover of some editions is the Tree-Man, a detail from Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights.

The book wants to complete Todorov's study The Fantastic in giving attention to Freudo-Marxism: political and psychoanalytical aspects of fantastic literature.

From the publisher:

This study argues against vague interpretations of fantasy as mere escapism and seeks to define it as a distinct kind of narrative. A general theoretical section introduces recent work on fantasy, notably Tzvetan Todorov's The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre (1973). Dr Jackson, however, extends Todorov's ideas to include aspects of psychoanalytical theory. Seeing fantasy as primarily an expression of unconscious drives, she stresses the importance of the writings of Freud and subsequent theorists when analysing recurrent themes, such as doubling or multiplying selves, mirror images, metamorphosis and bodily disintegration. Gothic fiction, classic Victorian fantasies, the 'fantastic realism' of Dickens and Dostoevsky, tales by Mary Shelley, James Hogg, E.T.A. Hoffmann, George Eliot, Henry James, Joseph Conrad, R. L. Stevenson, Franz Kafka, Mervyn Peake and Thomas Pynchon are among the texts covered. Through a reading of these frequently disquieting works, Dr Jackson moves towards a definition of fantasy expressing cultural unease. These issues are discussed in relation to a wide range of fantasies with varying images of desire and disenchantment.

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