The Craft of Fiction

More From Tolkien on Escapism and Fantasy

In discussing the question of fantasy and escapism on Kindle Boards, someone reminded me of this passage from J.R.R. Tolkien’s “On Fairy Stories.” Most apropos:

I have claimed that Escape is one of the main functions of fairy-stories, and since I do not disapprove of them, it is plain that I do not accept the tone of scorn or pity with which ‘Escape’ is now so often used. Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison-walls?

All of which implies that Tolkien thought that what he calls the “progressive dream” was a kind of prison.

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2 thoughts on “More From Tolkien on Escapism and Fantasy

  1. Brilliant. Too many people are dismissive of “genre” literature. Reading for pleasure (and “escape”) does not mean that the reader is only semi-literate.

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