Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

Apparitions or seemings that are perceived only by the chosen recipient generally carry some numinous charge and are seen while awake – as distinct from Dreams. William Morris's The Well at the World's End (1896) makes this distinction when the hero has nighttime visions of loved women: he may have been asleep, making it only a dream. Gods and Angels habitually send visions of themselves to mortals: the Virgin Mary (see Goddess) appears thus to King Alfred in G K Chesterton's The Ballad of the White Horse (1911). Some visions employ a stripped-down symbolism or iconography, as when Sauron in J R R Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings (1954-1955) is repeatedly seen as only a single red eye. Receptiveness to visions may indicate sanctity in a context of Religion – though the Devil too can play this game; the hallucinatory temptation of St Anthony has inspired several painters, including Salvador Dalí and Max Ernst. Alternatively, vision-proneness may be regarded as a secular Talent, of clairvoyance or Precognition. [DRL]

see also: Hallucination, Prophecy.

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.