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Historical Dictionary of Fantasy Literature

Short Stories


Once upon a time all literature was fantasy, set in a mythical past when magic existed, animals talked, and the gods took an active hand in earthly affairs. As the mythical past was displaced in Western estimation by the historical past and novelists became increasingly preoccupied with the present, fantasy was temporarily marginalized until the late 20th century, when it enjoyed a spectacular resurgence in every stratum of the literary marketplace.

The chronology tracks the evolution of fantasy from the origins of literature to the 21st century. The introduction explains the nature of the impulses creating and shaping fantasy literature, the problems of its definition and the reasons for its changing historical fortunes. The dictionary includes cross-referenced entries on more than 700 authors, ranging across the entire historical spectrum, while more than 200 other entries describe the fantasy subgenres, key images in fantasy literature, technical terms used in fantasy criticism, and the intimately convoluted relationship between literary fantasies, scholarly fantasies, and lifestyle fantasies. The book concludes with an extensive bibliography that ranges from general textbooks and specialized accounts of the history and scholarship of fantasy literature, through bibliographies and accounts of the fantasy literature of different nations, to individual author studies and useful websites.

Published in 2005 by The Scarecrow Press, Inc

Author's Note

When I delivered the text of this book in September 2004 it was, to my mind, in a perfectly satisfactory condition; it had been checked by a skilled and knowledgeable proofreader and I had gratefully made all the amendments she suggested.

When the publisher's proofs arrived I found that an in-house copy-editor had made thousands of amendments to the text, all but a few of which seemed to me to be blatantly injurious. Most were content to vandalize the grammar and punctuation, but a significant minority altered the meaning of the text so as to render whole sentences into gibberish or to import mistakes of fact. I asked the publisher - not very politely, I confess - to prepare a new set of proofs based on my text.

Two months later a second set was supplied; although they were a marked improvement on the previous set this effect had been achieved by applying a series of band-aids to the worst instances of mutilated text; the underlying problem remained untackled. At this point, I gave up in disgust and despair.

I should like to apologise to users of this book, and to the authors whose work is annotated herein, for the poor quality of this travesty of my text; my disappointment, frustration and sense of betrayal is probably greater than the sum of theirs.

Brian Stableford, August 2005.

The Brian Stableford Website