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Nechama Brodie

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

The Fantasy Debt

I can’t tell you how often I am told (bluntly, subtly, etc) that fantasy (and SF) is not “real” literature. Lucky for me I love my dragons, elves and wizards even more than the occasional Jilly Cooper…

Anyhoo: I was thinking, this weekend… Bookstores, authors, readers, owe a tremendous debt to the fanciful genre. Ten years ago, I remember trawling through the kiddy bookshelves, desperately trying to locate a copy of Enid Blyton or my own remembered childhood classics. And the only place I could find good old-fashioned kids’ books was in the second hand shops.

Today, the children’s section is alive, overflowing, bursting with beautiful covers and wonderful stories – new stuff, and re-published golden oldies. Now this is probably almost all due to the powers of Harry Potter, but let’s not forget Lemony Snicket and Philip Pullman and even the sugary Stephenie Meyer. The net effect is that kids are reading. Actually reading real books… And this means they’ll continue to read as adults.

Which is magic all of its own, not?


Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    March 24th, 2009 @13:22 #

    I have this theory, gleaned long ago from occasional volunteer teaching stints at a school for children who were physically and intellectually challenged: for adults, fantasy is about escape. For children, it's about possibility. And the same goes for the past: I remember teaching the Arthurian legends to children who were never going to be "normal", but who all had equal imaginative access to a world of knights in shining armour, acts of valour, etc. Reading fantasy explicitly invites the inhabitation of an imaginative world -- like you say, magic.


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