dimanche 5 octobre 2014

The Most Beloved Classic Fantasy Novels And The People Who Wrote Them

By Jocelyn Davidson

Every literary genre has the names of at least one or two authors indelibly linked to it. These authors not only went on to inspire those who came after them but they also knew how to tell a good story themselves. Nobody can say for instance that they truly love the horror genre if they haven't yet read Mary Shelley's groundbreaking 'Frankenstein', for instance. Among the most popular and influential classic fantasy novels of all time are the books of two authors who were actually great friends as well.

The genre of fantasy is characterized by themes that include the fantastical, magical and supernatural. In these stories, animals or trees may be able to talk as if they were human. There can be witches or wizards, both good and evil. Often there are fairies and elves or other legendary and mythical creatures. In fact, legends and myths can often be called early versions of stories in this genre.

The old myths and legends often influenced later authors. One of these was J. R. R. Tolkien, one of the most influential writers of the genre. Born in Bloemfontein, a city in what was to become South Africa, late in the nineteenth century, Tolkien grew up in England. He served in the British Army and was wounded while fighting in World War I. He became a professor of literature and taught at Oxford. He also edited and translated works from early English legends such as that of Beowulf.

However, it's for his writing that Tolkien is mostly remembered. His children's book 'The Hobbit', set in a mythical world of fairies, dragons and wizards and called Middle Earth, was a runaway success. To Tolkien's surprise, the story was very popular with adults too, so he wrote the sequel that would become one of the most popular epic novels of all time, 'The Lord of the Rings'.

The other author indelibly linked to the genre is C. S. Lewis, who was born in Belfast. Lewis spent much of his youth in English boarding schools and later lived and worked in England. He was wounded in World War I as well and also taught literature at various universities, including Oxford. It's probably no surprise then that he and Tolkien were good friends.

Lewis didn't originally make a name for himself as an author of fantasy books. He wrote in a wide variety of genres, including science fiction. However, his most popular body of work is a series about a land that can be accessed through the back of an old wardrobe. 'The Chronicles of Narnia' show that Lewis also loved the old legends and myths but the devoutly religious Lewis also included some decidedly Christian themes in the stories.

The popular works by Tolkien and Lewis were turned into stunning, award-winning films in the past two decades. People who'd never really liked fiction before were inspired to read the books after they'd seen the movies and before long, fantasy as a genre became wildly popular. Other authors created new works of fiction set in fantastical realms, such as Westeros in George R. R. Martin's 'A Song of Ice and Fire' series and Discworld in the eponymous series by Terry Pratchett.

The growing popularity of the genre means that you don't have to search in the children's or sci-fi sections of your local library or bookstore to find fantasy books anymore. You'll now find them in their own dedicated section. You can also buy the books online and let yourself be transported to another world.

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