Time and Death in Fantasy Worlds

Since much of fantasy literature is accessible to readers of all age and education levels, writers often use a variety of methods to work around and through difficult or unsavory topics. These techniques alImage result for time and deathso help with creating an alternate view of these subjects suitable for the alternate worlds in which these stories unfold. One subject that frequently manifests itself in unique ways is that of Death. While figures like Voldemort fear and flee death, it is an inevitable part of life, and no amount of Horcruxes or Invisibility of Cloaks will hide us from it forever.  To personify Death, authors sometimes rely on the conventional imagery of the Grim Reaper, but when it comes to speculative fiction, on the page or on the screen, this image sometimes is conflated with another, that of Father Time, and, in the process of fusing Time and Death, these stories use creative imagery and unique symbolism to portray the brief candles that are all of our lives.

On that cheerful note, cue up the cowbell and follow me after the jump for a look at a few recent and popular treatments of Time and Death in fantasy worlds. It really is less depressing than it sounds, TRUST ME.

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A Groundhog Throwback! Revisiting Posts of the Past

Apparently, since the groundhog did behold his shadow, six more weeks of winter are on their way. Quite honestly, the groundhogs where I live could see the shadow of Elvis and we’d still be lucky Image result for groundhogtoImage result for groundhog day movie get off with only six more weeks of ice melt, mud, bitter cold, and static electricity that could easily torch a Zeppelin. However, in the spirit of things, since today is Groundhog Day, references will abound to the Bill Murray film about maximum déjà vu. It is also Thursday, which has become the day to post pictures of the past. In honor of those two  events colliding, I thought it would be fun to re-visit some past posts that I really enjoyed writing and which, since they were some time ago, some of our newer Hogwarts Professor readers might have missed. So, turn that alarm clock back a few years, Mr. Murray, and let’s relive a few past posts that may ignite new conversations!

 

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Happy Birthday Gilderoy Lockhart! Pride as a Real and Fictional Flaw

We sometimes hear the word “pride” tossed around so much that it just becomes another slogan. People are encouraged to be proud of everything from their sports teams to their genetic make-up. However, this week, after a wonderful sermon on why pride is a problem (thanks, Pastor Alan), I re-read the first sentence of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, a line that is surprisingly Image result for gilderoy lockhart harry potterrevealing, and I began to ponder pride a little more in terms of its role as a spiritually corrosive force in fantasy literature, just as it is in life. So, let’s visit that deadly sin that rears its ugly head around so many real and fictional corners.

Pride, not to be confused with self-respect or satisfaction with a job well done, is a sin that is ridiculously common among human beings.  No less a personage than Benjamin Franklin pointed out that if we think we have really overcome pride, then we will become proud of our humility. We are, by our very nature, easily drawn into pride. Perhaps that is why it is such an effective element to characterize fictional people. By creating characters who suffer from the sin of pride, authors can make these characters more believable while, at the same time, using that pride to make readers dislike them. For, strangely enough, although everyone has succumbed to pride, it tends to be an easy sin for us to condemn, even while we are guilty of it ourselves.

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Why Leia Matters, Part 2: Literary Impact

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Last week, we were treated to Emily Strand’s outstanding post on the origins of the character of Princess Leia, whose cultural value we have never doubted, though the recent death of the woman who embodied Leia, the one-of-a-kind Carrie Fisher, has certainly prompted more serious thought on this remarkable character who is so much more than a distinctive hairdo.  As we saw last week, Leia has complex roots woven throughout literature, film, and history. As we’ll see this week, Leia herself has had a profound influence on a variety of arts in the last 40 years, most notably, literature, especially the literature we study and enjoy here. So, join me for that chat after the jump (to the next page, not to hyperspace; this is much safer, with no need for precise calculations to avoid flying right through a star or landing too close to a supernova).

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Return to Sylver with Tone Almhjell and Thornghost

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A little over two years ago, we published our original recommendation of The Twistrose Key  by Tone Almhjell, along with an interview with the delightful author herself. Last summer, Penguin published the companion novel, Thornghost. It is a haunting, evocative story that will enchant younger readers, and those of us old enough to read fairy stories again, in very different ways. Like The Twistrose Key, Thornghost  follows a human child who travels to another world, a world populated by animals once loved by children in our own world. This novel, though, takes place in a different stretch of  alternate geography and has its own unique flavor, its own remarkable story and characters shaped by Ms. Almhjell, who most graciously agreed to another interview, sharing with us her thoughts and experiences around returning to this magical world. Come get better acquainted with this wonderful author and her enchanting book!

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