Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Lifestyle Fantasy

If an individual has adopted a lifestyle that is noticeably affected by belief in Magic, mysticism, divination or any of the other trappings of fantasy fiction, that individual can be said to be living an LF.

The most accomplished lifestyle fantasists of the 19th century were French, although they relied to some extent on the example of such UK exports as "Beau" Brummell (1778-1840), Algernon Swinburne and Oscar Wilde. By the end of the century, however, the fashionable Occultism of Paris was being exported to London on a grand scale, its "traditions" enthusiastically taken up and carried forward by such quasi-Rosicrucian societies (> Rosicrucianism) as the Golden Dawn and the imitative organizations founded by Aleister Crowley and Dion Fortune. Like Madame Blavatsky and her Theosophist successors (> Theosophy), those involved with various kinds of ritual magic drew heavily on fantasy and occult fiction in customizing their particular brands of "wisdom"; later, writers of fantasy were only too glad to reclaim what had been borrowed – with interest. Today, the UK probably hosts at least as many lifestyle fantasists as France, but far fewer than California.

The LF which has had the most conspicuous influence on modern fantasy fiction is the New Paganism, which has colonized imaginative territory carved out by the Scholarly Fantasies of Jules Michelet (1798-1874) and Margaret Murray (1863-1963); its followers have co-opted the entire history of Witch-persecution, often enriched with a substantial slice of Fairy mythology, and the restyled materials have been copiously fed back into literary fantasy. The prolific resurgence of Reincarnation fantasies among lifestyle fantasists has not been matched by any dramatic increase in literary interest.

No matter what popular humour may allege, few lifestyle fantasists are found in mental hospitals; even the most devout and the most extraordinary are quite sane. [BS]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.