The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre (Cornell Paperbacks) Paperback – 31 May 1975
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"This work is much more than what its title might imply to an American reader. It is not simply another 'formalist' categorizing of a particular literary genre. Todorov involves himself in a consideration of the concept of literary genre (with a perceptive critique of Northrop Frye), a detailed and perceptive discourse on 'the fantastic, ' . . . and finally a philosophical-historical discussion of the relation of 'the fantastic' to literature itself. . . . This is an important work for anyone interested in criticism in general or in the criticism of fiction in particular."--Choice
"This, the first of Todorov's books to be translated into English (it was originally published in French in 1970), is brilliant. . . . Todorov's attempt to formulate a general theory for studying themes without subordinating literary theory to the social sciences makes this book indispensable to serious students of lietarture."--Library Journal
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For non-research readers interested in genre theory, I am not certain how useful and understandable this book might be. It is important to be aware that many of his theories have been modified or have evolved into better structured concepts, implying that for the novice or amateur, more recent genre studies might be more helpful and appropriate. In addition, Todorov's style can be at times convoluted or needlessly complex (and despite his claim to 'structuralism', he does diverge from it). That said, his ideas still come through with surprising insight, and, as said, is invaluable to any and all genre theory researchers.
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However, I really enjoyed Todorov's perspective on the fantastic because it helps to consider the conventions of fantasy and science fiction in terms of structure instead of tropes. The idea helped me to do some rhetorical analysis of arguments made through these genres--so very useful (tropes can't do that). I'm not sure I fully buy his spectrum of the uncanny to the fantastic, but I haven't considered much the uncanny side of the spectrum.
I should note that scholar Rosemary Jackson built off of this theory in "Fantasy, the literature of subversion," and I think her discussion is far more useful, but Todorov's work is a good place to start when generating ideas about the structures of fantasy and science fictions.
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