Eros in Fantasy Analytical Essay by mikkenzi

Eros in Fantasy
Reflections on Eros in literary fantasy.
# 64496 | 3,982 words | 19 sources | MLA | 2005 | FR
Published on Mar 20, 2006 in Literature (Greek and Roman) , English (Analysis)

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This paper presents a study of Eros in literary fantasy based on seven short stories (Ambrose Bierce's "The Death of Halpin Frayser", Charles Dickens's "The Signalman", Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Minister's Black Vei"l, Patricia Highsmith's "The Snail-Watcher", H. P. Lovecraft's "The Festival", Richard Matheson's "Born of Man and Woman", Edgar. Allan Poe's "The Black Cat") and two short excerpts from Gothic novels (M. G. Lewis's "The Monk" and Ann Radcliffe's "The Mysteries of Udolpho"), but occasional references are made to other works by these authors and also to Henry James, the Bronte sisters and Le Fanu. The paper begins with a brief presentation of the Greek myth of Eros. The second part of the study considers the problem of knowledge in relation to the erotic dimension of literary fantasies. In the third part of the study, the paper turns to the different manifestations of Eros in fantasy and the process of attraction-repulsion, before examining, in the fourth and final part, two erotic motifs which, latently or overtly, introduce an erotic dimension.

From the Paper:

"Indeed, when looking into the texts that form the corpus of our study, one recurring particularity is noticeable in all of them - all narrators are very much concerned with seeing and knowing. The reader is confronted with the narrator's or protagonist's persistent questioning and that questioning also becomes the reader's. We could call it the "wh-" of fantasy - Halpin Frayser does not know "whence and whither" he travels; Dickens's narrator wants to know "what" the signalman's trouble is and asks "Who is it?"; the snail-watcher has to know "what" his snails are up to and "how" they breed; Antonia earnestly demands "How came I here?... Where am I?", while Ambrosio needs to know "why" she refuses him and their mutual questioning goes on in two consecutive paragraphs; Radcliffe's Emily asks her attendant a thousand questions. The reader is a witness of countless who-what-when-where-how-s and for the most part, they remain unanswered. It is as if the signalman answered on our behalf - "I don't know." The texts become desperate attempts to pass on the same biblically borrowed message that stands out in Le Fanu's In a Glass Darkly, the message that "we know in part, and we prophesy in part". These intense efforts to see, to find out, to know are easily explained by the fact that we are dealing with fantasy which, partly by definition, is the literature of the unknown. But the work of many authors of fantasy also carries a heavy cultural heritage that feeds on centuries of known written history, on repeatedly told legends and on established myths."

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