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The ancient roots of children’s fantasy fiction: from the Odyssey to Artemis Fowl and the laws of magic


Tierney, C and Fletcher, LM, The ancient roots of children's fantasy fiction: from the Odyssey to Artemis Fowl and the laws of magic, FAFNIR - Nordic Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy Research, 9, (2) pp. 147-161. ISSN 2342-2009 (2022) [Refereed Article]

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Critics of fantasy fiction stress that its roots lie in ancient mythology. This article offers a case study that tests the currency of this assumption for children’s fantasy. It investigates how the contemporary subgenre recycles characters and narratives from ancient tales through two series and the Odyssey. We demonstrate striking parallels between the series and the Odyssey and reveal how key features of contemporary children’s fantasy – including quest structures, the character trait of cunning intelligence, and particular patterns in father/child relationships – have their roots in and continue to follow the logic of this fundamental ancient text. The article concludes that reading contemporary children’s fantasy through its classical antecedents reveals the persistence of ancient narratives in the subgenre. Children’s fantasy fiction is not impoverished or limited by its ongoing dependence on ancient tales. Rather, the deeply adaptive sensibility of fantasy is generative of new opportunities for storytelling.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:popular fiction, genre fiction, fantasy fiction, children's fiction, Odyssey
Research Division:Language, Communication and Culture
Research Group:Literary studies
Research Field:Popular and genre literature
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Communication
Objective Field:Literature
UTAS Author:Tierney, C (Miss Caylee Tierney)
UTAS Author:Fletcher, LM (Professor Lisa Fletcher)
ID Code:154991
Year Published:2022
Deposited By:English
Deposited On:2023-01-23
Last Modified:2023-01-23

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