(1917- ) UK academic whose Fantasy: The Literature of Subversion (1981) applies the concept of the Fantastic espoused by Tsetvan Todorov to a range of fantasy texts in a manner that is sprightly, contumacious at points, and learned. She understands fantasy to be a literature of "desire" – a term she defines as occasioned (though not defined) by cultural restraints and repressions – and that fantasy texts therefore challenge that repressive system. "When fantasy describes the impossible," Brian Attebery suggests in his discussion of her work in Strategies of Fantasy (1992), "it is really manifesting the forbidden."
This theory is most clearly and generally applicable to the genre's formative years (approximately 1780-1850), when the fantasy premise could be understood as an act of imagination that avowedly undermined the world. But later, when Secondary Worlds of varying textures began to be created, the normative weight of Fantasyland gave to texts an air more of refusal than of subversion. Modern fantasy's relationship to the inhibiting world is so lubricated as now to be more or less unperceived, and almost always painless; it is hard to see, except in Aesopian Fantasies written by those under political threat, how RJ's propositions can have any large current relevance. [JC]
Rosemary Elizabeth Jackson