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KARADENIZ TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY Department of English Language and Literature

Bachelor Dissertation Proposal

Fantastic Elements in J.R.R. Tolkiens The Hobbit Ahmet Mesut ATE

Supervisor Asst. Prof. Mustafa Zeki IRAKLI


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ABSTRACT J.R.R. Tolkien and Tzevtan Todorov outline their theories of fantasy and categorization of fantastic elements in On Fairy Stories and Introduction la littrature fantastique.These theories of fantasy are amongst a few theories concerning fantasy literature. Considering Tolkiens debated idea that in human art Fantasy is a thing best left to true literature, this study aims to focus on fantasy as discussed in theories of J.R.R. Tolkien and Tzevetan Todorov and to pave the way for a critical analysis of Tolkiens the Hobbit. This study therefore will apply terminologies offered by Tolkien and Todorov on Tolkiens the Hobbit and try to reveal the significance of fantasy in literature. Keywords: Tolkien, Todorov, fantasy, fantastic, the Hobbit, fairy, tales, storytelling

1. What is fantasy in literature? Fantastic derives from Latin phantasticus meaning visionary and unreal; according to this definition all imaginary activity is fantastic which follows all literary works are fantasies (Jackson 14). This scope of fantasy and fantastic proved itself to be difficult to define fantasy as distinctive literary genre because fantasy in literature is an enormous and seductive subject and with the utilisation of magic, mythology and other supernatural elements, it has always been regarded as a peculiar genre. Works of fantasy voice the child within and mens desire to be careless and free as a child again is what derives us to that kind of literary works. But for the questions such as what constitutes fantasy and what are the fantastic elements there seems no concrete answer because its association with imagination and desire makes the fantasy a difficult subject to articulate (Jackson 1).

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2. Traditional Fantasy Before 1969, the description fantasy, with respect to literary works, was usually only applied to a variety of childrens fiction. Traditional classification of fantasy accounts the genre as early as the first literary work where it employed folklore, legends and myth intricately. Unfortunately, this interwoven relationship precluded the commendation of the genre which is why still today the border between fantasy and myth is not completely clarified. Modern Fantasy starts in 18th century with George Mac Donald whom Tolkien was mostly influenced by. Outstanding works of early modern period: Alices Adventure in Wonderland; Dracula; The Wonderful Wizard of OZ and Peter Pan. 3. Fantasy as a Literary Genre Literary criticism has been somehow reluctant towards the fantasy genre. Maybe this notion stems from the fact that literary criticism tends to be interested in works of dominant literary genres. Before Tolkien and Todorov, fantasy literature was evaluated according to Alexander Baumgarten ideas which were concerned with aesthetics rather than fantasy itself (Stableford, XLV). The lack of adequate theories was not the only obstacle while fantastic works have come to be associated with childrens tales. Fantasy Literature has become more popular by the 20th century. Authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, H.P. Lovecraft and T.H. White popularized the genre and pushed literary critics to acknowledge the genre. Aftermath of World War I brought attention on escapist works literature and fantasy genre was one of the first to lay claim on this new territory. Though still today characteristics of the fantasy genre are still under investigation, critics, hereafter, started to take the fantastic works more seriously and fantasy attained its status as a literary genre after an authorial struggle that lasted nearly two millennia.

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Modernist theories accept fantasy as a body of moral instructions and postmodernist theories observe and employ fantasy to expose the incoherence at the heart of the reality. 4. Fantastic Theories of Literature Two major theoreticians of modern fantasy are J.R.R. Tolkien and Tzvetan Todorov. Tolkien published his theories of Cauldron of Story and Sub-creation in his essay On Fairy Tales in 1939. And Todorov published his theory on fantasy in Introduction la littrature fantastique in 1970 in French it was translated into English by Richard Howard in 1973. 4.1. J.R.R. Tolkiens Theories of Fantasy On Fairy Tales was firstly delivered as a lecture in University of St. Andrews in 1938 and later published in 1947 by Oxford University Press. According to Tolkien, definitions attributed to fairy stories hitherto fall short with their insistence on a childish notion and judgement of the literary value of the genre; he asserts that they are a descendant to storytelling tradition and scope of it is vast: the realm of fairy-story is wide and deep and high and filled with many things: all manner of beasts and birds are found there; shoreless seas and stars uncounted (3). Tolkien does not offer precise definitions because he believes that Fairy develops itself over time and thus one cannot draw a concrete form for it there is no beginning or ending for fairy stories. Tolkien states that: the primal "desires" that lie near the heart of Faerie : the desire of men to hold communion with other living things. The magical understanding by men of the proper languages of birds and beasts and trees (15). Tolkien alludes to the origins of the faerie stories and concludes that they are very ancient indeed. Related things appear in very early records; and they are found universally, wherever there is language (20).

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4.1.1. Theory of Sub-Creation Tolkien had an acute belief in the generalization and the abstraction power of the language. According Tolkien, It is humanity's very divinityour status as inexorable subcreators because we have been divinely created. Tolkien argues that creative aspect of humanity and language prompts us to create. He states that all authors are sub-creators. He claims his belief in the power of language and human creation and adds that: Fantasy remains a human right: we make in our measure and in our derivative mode, because we are made: and not only made, but made in the image and likeness of a Maker (55). 4.1.2. The Cauldron of Story Amongst many reactions to fantasy, the first and the foremost used would be that these events, patterns, characters or even names have already existed under the title of folklore or myth or legend. But Tolkien asserts that myth, legends, folklore and the characters of these stories have all become entangled with each other how much they are related and which will dominate the tale this only the storyteller can decide (Tolkien, 26). He believes that all the literary devices and other means of a story exist in the Cauldron of Story. Tolkiens approach corresponds to Henry Fieldings ideas who claimed that his characters are universally familiar characters rather than being alive. 4.1.3. Elements of Fantasy Tolkien follows elements of fairy stories as follows: (a) Fantasy, (b) Recovery, (c) Escape and (d) Consolation. a. Fantasy: derived notions of unreality, images of things that are not actually present or believed to be not to be present in primary world. Tolkien defines

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fantasy as the Sub-creative art but while doing this it does not contradict with Reason because it is natural human activity (Tolkien 48). b. Recovery: seeing the things we are used to in a way that we can not only appreciate the thing but also its parts, things that make it a whole. Tolkien defines recovery as seeing things as we are (or were) meant to see them (Tolkien 57). c. Escape: one of the main functions of fairy stories. Escape is not from the reality or the primary world but rather more serious things such as hunger, thirst, poverty, pain, sorrow, injustice, death and the reader reaches profound desires flying or conversing with the beasts and understanding their speech. The greatest escape of the fairy stories is the escape from the Death a search for the immortality (Tolkien 66-7). d. Consolation: a sudden and unpredictable turn of events. It is the joyous turn of events at the end of the tale. According Tolkien, a fairy story is not an escape, consolation or fantasy but the underlying reality of truth. 4.2. Tzvetan Todorovs Theory of Fantastic The Fantastic is mostly concerned with the interrelationship between the elements of the fantasy rather than the genre itself. Todorov excludes drama from the discussion. He defines fantastic as: those works in which events occur that cannot be explained by rational laws, and in which the reader hesitates to the very end as to whether these events have rational explanations or are the product of rational forces operating in everyday reality (Reeder 187). Tolkien perceives secondary belief as an essential for the fantasy but Todorov claims that fantasy lies in the indecision between the uncanny and the marvellous, (...) it requires "near belief," which is either belief or disbelief [sic] (Aichele 326). Tolkien rejects the concept of truth in the fantasy literature while Todorov states the fantastic remains bound to the

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metaphysical binarism of real and unreal, and thus he keeps one foot on modernist ground (Aichele 326). Todorov does not offer a detailed explanation of the circumstances or chronological definition of the fantasy genre but offers is a classification of fantasy. Todorov observes fantastic in two categories: (a) the Marvellous and (b) the Uncanny. a. The Marvellous: reader is aware that there are no rational explanations to the events taking place in the work. Todorov include fairy tales and science fiction to this category. b. The Uncanny: bizarre and weird occurrences, but a natural explanation such as dream, intoxication or madness can be given. Todorov postulates three requirements for pure fantastic: 1. The work should sustain the readers hesitation between natural and supernatural to the end. 2. The characters should share the hesitation and enable the reader to identify himself with the character. 3. The reader should be aware that the work is a fantastic one and should not attempt to read it as an allegory.

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References Aichele, G. "Literary Fantasy And Postmodern Theology." Journal Of The American Academy Of Religion 59.2 (1991): 323-337. Scopus. Web. 27 Dec. 2013. Brooke-Rose, Christine. "Historical Genres/Theoretical Genres: A Discussion Of Todorov On The Fantastic." New Literary History 1 (1976): 145. JSTOR Arts & Sciences III. Web. 27 Dec.2013. Jackson, Rosemary. Fantasy: the literature of subversion. Routledge, 2002.PDF. Lem, Stainslaw. "Todorov's Fantastic Theory Of Literature." Science Fiction Studies 1.4 (1974):227-237. Literary Reference Center Plus. Web. 27 Dec. 2013. Perkins, J. "Finding Todorov In Russian Literary Criticism: The Struggle To Define The Fantastic." Forum For Modern Language Studies 44.4 (2008): 363-378. British Library Document Supply Centre Inside Serials & Conference Proceedings. Web. 27 Dec. 2013. Reeder , Roberta . The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a Literary Genreby Tzvetan Todorov; Richard Howard. The Slavic and East European Journal, Vol. 20, No. 2 (Summer, 1976), pp. 186-189.Jstor.Web. 27 Dec. 2013. Ross, Smith. "Tolkien The Storyteller." English Today 22.1 (2006): 45-50. Education Research Complete. Web. 27 Dec. 2013. Stableford, Brian. The A to Z of fantasy literature. Scarecrow Press, 2009.PDF. Todorov, Tzvetan, and John Lyons. "What Is Literature For?" New Literary History 1 (2007): 13. JSTOR Arts & Sciences III. Web. 27 Dec. 2013.

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Todorov, Tzvetan. The fantastic: A structural approach to a literary genre. Cornell University Press, 1975.PDF. Tolkien, John Ronald Reuel. "On fairy-stories." Tree and leaf (1964): 11-70.PDF. Wood, Ralph C. "Following The Many Roads Of Recent Tolkien Scholarship." Christianity & Literature 54.4 (2005): 587-608. Religion and Philosophy Collection. Web. 27 Dec. 2013. Yaggi, Miranda Maney. "Harry Potter's Heritage: Tolkien As Rowling's Patronus Against The Critics." Topic: The Washington & Jefferson College Review 54.(2004): 33-45. Humanities International Complete. Web. 27 Dec. 2013.

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Web Sources History_of_Fantasy Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopaedia. 29 October 2006. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 22 Nov. 2013. Luminarium: Anthology of English Literature. November 13, 2001. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Created by Anniina Jokinen on. November 22, 2013. Okyay, Sevin. J.R.R. Tolkienin Fantastik Dnyas. Virgl Aylk Kitap ve Eletiri Dergisi. 12-13 Aralk 1997.