History of fantasy

Elements of the supernatural and the fantastic were an element of literature from its beginning. The modern genre is distinguished from tales and folklore which contain fantastic elements, first by the acknowledged fictitious nature of the work, and second by the naming of an author. Works in which the marvels were not necessarily believed, or only half-believed, such as the European romances of chivalry and the tales of the Arabian Nights, slowly evolved into works with such traits. Authors like George MacDonald (1824 –1905) created the first explicitly fantastic works.

The violet fairy book (1906)

Later, in the twentieth century, the publication of The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien enormously influenced fantasy writing, establishing the form of epic fantasy. This also did much to establish the genre of fantasy as commercially distinct and viable. And today fantasy continues as an expansive, multi-layered milieu encompassing many subgenres, including traditional high fantasy, sword and sorcery, magical realism, fairytale fantasy, and horror-tinged dark fantasy.


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