Anna VaninskayaApr 7, 2022
Fantasy Then, Now, and Forever with Anna Vaninskaya
A Conversation with Anna Vaninskaya
New Books Network 2022
Elizabeth and John talk about fantasy's power of world-making with Edinburgh professor Anna Vaninskaya, author of William Morris and the Idea of Community: Romance, History and Propaganda, 1880-1914 (2010) and Fantasies of Time and Death: Dunsany, Eddison, Tolkien (2020). Anna uncovers the melancholy sense of displacement and loss running through Tolkien, and links his notion of "subcreation" to an often concealed theological vision. Not allegory but "application" is praised as a way of reading fantasy.
John asks about hopeful visions of the radical politics of fantasy (Le Guin, but also Graeber and Wengrow's recent work); Elizabeth stresses that fantasy's appeal is at once childish and childlike. E. Nesbit surfaces, as she tends to in RtB conversations. The question of film TV and other visual modes comes up: is textual fantasy on the way out?
Mentioned in the Episode:
- David Graeber and David Wengrow, The Dawn of Everything.
- In "From Elfland to Poughkeepsie" Ursula Le Guin perhaps surprisingly praises the otherworldly prose style of Anna's beloved E. R. Eddison, best known for The Worm Ouroboros (1922)
- J. R. R. Tolkien, "On Fairy Stories"
- E. Nesbit The Phoenix and the Carpet
- Lord Dunsany, King of Elfland's Daughter
- Ursula Le Guin The Books of Earthsea
- Sylvia Townsend Warner, Kingdoms of Elfin (and read this lovely Ivan Kreilkamp article on her earlier strange great Lolly Willowes)
- Lloyd Alexander Chronicles of Prydain
- N. K. Jemisin, The Fifth Season
Elizabeth Ferry is Professor of Anthropology at Brandeis University. Email: email@example.com. John Plotz is Barbara Mandel Professor of the Humanities at Brandeis University and co-founder of the Brandeis Educational Justice Initiative. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.