First fantasy motifs were shown in romanticism. We all know the mystical and unreal characters: ghosts, phantoms etc. Authors for building the special mood and charm of that epoch used that figures. But fantasy is something more than romantic ways of showing nature or inner experiences of the main character in the novel. It’s also not an attempt of explaining the unreal and difficult to understand visions or event. In the course of time it began to live it’s own life more and more the writers started to use these motifs. And what had happened? They created fairy-tales completely different from the basic kinds of literature, they invented fantasy.
So how did it all start? Well, there are lots of ideas about that. I’m the one who agrees with theory that the very beginning was “Alice in Wonderland” written by Lewis Carroll in 1865. We may laugh that it is on the same bookshelf as “Winnie the Pooh” or “Peter Pan” and many more. It’s a fact that these works were written for children but they had this thing, some kind of new idea, concept that distinguished them, made it different from many others.
That is the origin of fantasy literature. Now I would like to focus on the definition of this sort. Being honest, there is a problem cause there is really no good definition. There are many of them, but each other denies another. One way of solving this is creating many under kinds of fantasy which wonderfully started to suit the novels, e.g.:”Lord of the Rings” became epic fantasy, “Conan” by Robert E. Howard was heroic fantasy and so on. But this is not a good, objective way. My favourite definition is one made by Andrzej Sapkowski. He said: ”Fantasy is all that have a sign with caption ‘Fantasy’. If on the back of a book right under publishers name we can see the inscription ‘fantasy’, that book is included to fantasy kind”. That definition is unpretentious but not faultless. Why? Just because many publishers simply don’t know what to write, they don’t do any captions or do it accidentally. But that is not in our concern.
After trying to define fantasy I’ll introduce possible kinds of it, with the examples. The first one is called “behind the closed door”. The whole idea of it is that behind our, “normal”, real world, the one we live in, exist other dimensions, parallel worlds, lands of fantasy. To that other world usually is leading some door, secret entrance. They can be opened but not everyone can do it, it has to be “The Chosen One”. The most know example of this kind is “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” by C. S. Lewis. Lewis from his early childhood had in mind a vision of a faun wandering in a forest covered by snow. That picture developed to stories about the fantasyland called Narnia. When Lewis was a child, he played with his brother hiding in a big oaken wardrobe telling stories. One time he created a land he called Animaland, where animals just like people wore clothes. In stories about Narnia the realness mixes with fantastic elements. Narnia was a land of magic, where lived incredible creatures: the great king lion Aslan(archetype of Deus artifex which is God the creator), walking trees and nymphs, fauns or satyrs, dwarves and giants, gods and centaurs; they all were talking with human voice. An accident caused that four brothers and sisters entered that strange world. Whilst playing they discovered entrance in the title wardrobe. They were dragged into a battle between the evil White Witch (very familiar to Andersen’s Queen of Snow) and noble Aslan – king and creator of Narnia. Children fought hand in hand with the lion and after winning the war...