Representation of the Fantastic World in English-Language Literature Cover Image

Репрезентация фантастического мира в англоязычной литературе
Representation of the Fantastic World in English-Language Literature

Author(s): Yahorava N.A., A.V. Drozd
Subject(s): Fiction, Studies of Literature, Sociology of Culture
Published by: ლიტერატურის ინსტიტუტის გამომცემლობა
Keywords: multiverse; fantastic world; science fiction; fantasy; genre;

Summary/Abstract: The modern conception of multiverse, as a theory about the cosmos, consisting of many parallel worlds existing simultaneously with ours, has become the subject of research both in science and science fiction. The fantastic world, on the one hand, is genre-driven, on the other hand, the fantastic world can be of individual character (that of the author). Despite the fact that the fantastic world is a certain type of space and its image, it is not limited just to spatial characteristics. Since the triad “the type of the world picture, the type of the plot and the type of a character” are interdependent, the concept “fantastic world” encompasses the entire work, reflecting its integrity. Consequently, we can conclude that it is logical to study the English-speaking fantasy world within the framework of historical works, because the first story (a legend) served as a launching pad for creating the images of the fantastic world in literature, in general. The historicity of the fantastic multi-world manifests itself in the fact that in science fiction the “child-like” and the “ancient” merge, reflecting the historical and psychological origins of a fantasy: the imagists, while creating imaginary extraterrestrial brethren in mind or the terrible carriers of extraterrestrial inorganic life, in essence, represent the most ancient stages passed by mankind. Time flows and the variability of fantasy types grows, which is predetermined by the differentiation of cultural traditions. Considering different types of literary fantasy worlds, one can conclude that their distinctive feature is the presence of a folklore fairy-tale component in the plot. Literary fantasy worlds are various modifications and transformations of the fantastic world exhibited in a fairy– tale. The connection between the English-speaking fantasy world of a literary fairy-tale and the folklore legend wants no grounding. Science fiction, paradoxically, imitates the structure, character and functions of the fantastic world of a folklore fairy-tale. Now the folklore fairy-tale world tends to be relevant in the literary fairy-tale and science fiction despite the fact that literature as a whole has already gone from the original forms of folk fantasy: modern forms of “tradition” are unlike folklore because in its plot science fiction explores parallel, multiple worlds, their interaction or co-existence. Fantastic ideas related to the multi-world and parallel worlds can be divided into two categories: 1) ideas of “what would happen if ...”-type; 2) sci-f ideas about the structure and laws of the multiverse on how different branches of the multi-worlds interact. The English-speaking fantastic image can be characterized through the “category of the impossible” acting at four levels: 1) the impossible on the whole; 2) the impossible in reality; 3) the impossible from the technical standpoint; 4) the impractical from the practical standpoint. In literary criticism, the issue on the genre correlation of science fiction and “fantasy” is rather topical. Sometimes “fantasy” is regarded as a kind of science fiction, and sometimes they are in literary opposition. English-speaking fantasy has its own characteristics in comparison with science fiction, which manifest themselves in the genre specificity (classical fantasy, folklore fantasy, author’s fantasy, etc.). However, the interpenetration of fantasy and science fiction can be attested in the following genres: techno-fantasy, cyberpunk, alternative history, humorous fantasy, etc. Techno-fantasy and cyberpunk are in close interaction with science fiction at the level of technical realities use.However, the link of techno-fantasy to science fiction will be wrong, because the fantasy has its own specific features due to the uniqueness of imagery and the fantastic properties of space and time that transform the Magic Country into virtual reality. Alternative history is characterized by relatively scientific features and is slightly different from historical literature due to the arbitrary change in the chronology of the narrative. As a result, the reader turns out in a “different” reality, living according to the laws of the “former”in existence. The genre variety of computer games novelization can be easily traced in shooters, quests, etc. The notion of “another dimension” has become synonymous with the notion of “parallel world”. The variants of the idea of hyperspace used in science fiction are the varieties of the idea of a parallel world. Used in many sci-f universes, the term “hyperspace” refers to a parallel universe that is used as a means of moving at a speed greater than the speed of light for interstellar travel. The rationale for the existence of this form of hyperspace varies from work to work, but there are two common elements: 1) the objects on the world map of hyperspace correspond to the objects of our universe, providing points of “entry” and “exit” for travelers; 2) the travel time between two points in hyperspace is less than the time for moving between similar objects in our universe. The emergence of parallel worlds is the result of the actions of travelers in time: the character who has moved by the time machine to the past, affects the event, changing its outcomes which results in a new universe emergence. The fate of the traveler can be different: in some cases, it is assumed that he will be in his own time, in other cases – the traveler will return to the future of the new, self-created world. Since in fantasy works, as a rule, worlds differing from the real ones are depicted, linguistic works devoted to the language of fiction focus on unusual nominations – the common names of fictional realities or fantastic personal names and geographical names. The questions concerning other narrative art genres which are under study by literary scholars include the linguistic ways of organizing the plot, while the means of expressive evaluation (and other linguistic means) are of much less interest to researchers. Nevertheless, in the works of the fantastic genre, the derivation potential of the language, a large number of occasional vocabulary contribute to the creation of the fantastic world imagery.

  • Issue Year: 2017
  • Issue No: 18
  • Page Range: 250-266
  • Page Count: 17
  • Language: Russian