The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre
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The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  405 ratings  ·  19 reviews
In The Fantastic, Tzvetan Todorov seeks to examine both generic theory and a particular genre, moving back and forth between a poetics of the fantastic itself and a metapoetics or theory of theorizing, even as he suggest that one must, as a critic, move back and forth between theory and history, between idea and fact. His work on the fantastic is indeed about a historical...more
Paperback, 190 pages
Published May 31st 1975 by Cornell University Press (first published 1970)
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Chris King Elfland's 2nd Cousin
Jan 03, 2012 Chris King Elfland's 2nd Cousin rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of critical theory
NOTE: This review first appeared at The King of Elfland's 2nd Cousin on January 3rd, 2012. If you enjoy it, you'll find more stuff like it there!

Happy New Year! Now that the formalities are out of the way, I thought I'd take a few moments to share with you what I did between Christmas and New Year's: In addition to remodeling our library, and turning our dining room into a library annex, I also spent the week slowly and carefully reading Tzvetan Todorov's classic book of genre criticism, approp...more
Soren Sondergaard
A frustrating read. Very few parallels are drawn to the fantastic genre and Todorov's rather simple theory is hidden beneath a mountain of academics. Still - most chapters are very good while a few (like chapter VIII) are almost unreadable.
This is one of the classic academic books on the subject. While it focuses on a small slice of the genre of speculative fiction (Todorov defines the fantastic as a kind of hesitation between deciding whether a supernatural event is real or imagined, rather than uncanny where the event turns out to have a "real world" explanation, or the marvelous, where the supernatural event has a supernatural explanation), there are many points about the genre that carry over into the greater category.

He also...more
It was really easy to read, but I absolutely have no use for Todorov's Definition of the Fantastic.
Isadora Wagner
This book came to me highly recommended by a friend of the uncanny, and has truly become one of my most trusted reach-to favorites. You know that ailment that's been bugging you, but you didn't have the name for it and didn't know how a bunch of symptoms were actually related until you went and saw a specialist? Todorov's structuralist breakdown of the marvelous, the fantastic, and the uncanny--with the fantastic mediating in the middle through uncertainty--was the holy grail of aha! moments for...more
Adam Fisher
Begins wonderfully, quickly loses steam. His initial definition of fantasy as a type of 'hesitation' is wonderful, (compare with Lacan's definition of the 'real' in similar terms for bonus points) but after this point is made, he clearly has little else revealing to part with on the subject. In addition, the type of fantasy literature that he discusses is clearly dated, his most recent named author being (by my guess) H.P. Lovecraft, though this is less important because his very definition of f...more
Dec 24, 2007 Elizabeth rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone interested in fantastic literature
An analytical view of the fantastic and its contribution to literature as a whole. I find this book delightfully philosophical about my favorite topic: literature. Todorov's theories about defining the fantastic are direct, correct, and applicable. Sometimes I read things on literary analysis, and I wonder why it matters, but, for some reason, I was completely drawn into Todorov's arguments and never once questioned why I couldn't just enjoy a book for what it's worth and move on. He inspired an...more
Sergio Arroyo
Lo fantástico, lo extraño, lo maravilloso y sus distintos sabores y combinaciones, desentrañados para siempre. La cantidad de información teórica imprescindible que contiene este apretado volumen es proporcional a la cantidad de profes de literatura en todo el mundo que publican su propia teoría de la literatura fantástica y quedan en el olvido instantáneo. Todorov es el último gran teórico literario del siglo XX y este tomo su derecho de piso permanente.
Es uno de los libros sobre teoría literaria que más me gustan, plantea los temas y estrategias fundamentales de la narración fantástica, además hace una interesante diferenciación entre lo fantástico, la fantasía y lo maravilloso. Todorov fija las bases sobre las que, hasta el día de hoy, se apoyan o remiten los estudios sobre este subgénero.
I'm pretty sure this is the one that I read: the title in French was "introduction a la litterature fantastique". Interesting, but I didn't like the condemning tone that he applies to actual fantasy in contrast.
Richard K. W. Hsu
Read it for thesis writing.
I have to say that Todorov is very clever, though this book is really boring for its strong background on structuralism. However, the discussion of narratology is still worth-reading.
João Ricardo
Apr 20, 2009 João Ricardo rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to João by: Douglas Dickel
Livro excelente para compreender as diferenças entre o fantástico, o estranho e o maravilhoso. Apesar de não estar incluído em seu texto ajuda a compreender o gênero da fantasia.
Tina Romanelli
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
In fact quite underwhelming. Overall, the discussion about themes in literature and how they work structurally was more interesting than the one on the fantastic.
Fantasian tutkimuksen klassikoita, joka tuli luettua vasta nyt ja samalla tuli todettua, että eipä se liity juurikaan omaan tutkimukseen. Ei kovin kummoinenkaan kirja.
One of the more amazing works on the fantastic in literature, and an excellent entry point into narratological analysis! Thoroughly enjoyable reading.
Dec 05, 2009 Katya added it
I freely admit I don't understand all that's going on here.... even when (inevitably) read in small doses, there's a lot of salient stuff to unpack. yum
This book was fine. I had to write a paper on it though, so I think I got a little too much of it. It was just ok in the end.
Mar 02, 2010 Eirin rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2010
Wonderful book, even if it was a bit outdated. There's still some very good points in there.
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In Bulgarian Цветан Тодоров. Todorov is a Franco-Bulgarian historian, philosopher and literary theoretician. Among his most influential works is his theory on the fantastic, the uncanny and marvellous.
More about Tzvetan Todorov...
The Conquest of America: The Question of the Other Facing The Extreme: Moral Life in the Concentration Camps Mikhail Bakhtin: The Dialogical Principle La littérature en péril Introduction To Poetics

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