Image & Data Visualisation: Realms of Fantasy

“Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisioned by the enemy, don’t we consider it his duty to escape?. . .If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we’re partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!”
― J.R.R. Tolkien

“All children, except one, grow up.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.”
― C.S. Lewis

Three Fantasy Books

  1. The Hobbit (or There and Back Again) J.R.R.Tolkien

If there is one thing I love it would be a good escapist story. The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien, published in 1937, is just that kind of story: Bilbo Baggins lives a quiet, peaceful life in his comfortable hole at Bag End. Bilbo lives in a hole because he is a hobbit—one of a race of small, plump people about half the size of humans, with furry toes and a great love of good food and drink. Bilbo is quite content at Bag End, near the bustling hobbit village of Hobbiton, but one day his comfort is shattered by the arrival of the old wizard Gandalf, who persuades Bilbo to set out on an adventure with a group of thirteen militant dwarves. The dwarves are embarking on a great quest to reclaim their treasure from the marauding dragon Smaug, and Bilbo is to act as their “burglar.” 

An unlikely hero who is called upon to challenge the odds, against a ferocious fire-breathing dragon. What more could you want than that?

Understanding Tolkien and the Origins of Middle-Earth

2.   The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis

Another route into the realms of fantasy, is not knowing what you may find through a wardrobe. C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, published in 1950, sees Lucy Pevensie take a trip through a magical wardrobe into the realm of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe specifically focuses on gluttony. Edmund’s descent into the Witch’s service begins during his frantic consumption of the magic Turkish Delight. Since this is enchanted Turkish Delight, Edmund cannot be held accountable for his gluttony as if he were overindulging in ordinary candy. The real sin occurs when Edmund allows himself to fixate on the Turkish Delight long after he leaves the Witch. Edmund’s consumption of the Turkish Delight may also be a reference to the sin of Adam and Eve, when they ate from the Tree of Knowledge. 

The battle of good and evil is fought in the magical world of Narnia, in the most enchanting fantasy novels ever written.

Understanding C.S. Lewis and the Origins of Narnia

3.   Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie

Second star to the right and straight on ’til morning will take you to a world of mermaids, pirates, Red Indians, and all it takes is a little sprinkle of faith, trust and pixie dust. J.M. Barrie told the Lewelyn Davis boys – the original Lost Boys – lots of stories, and these tales are where Neverland and Peter Pan came from. He came up with the name ‘Peter Pan’ by putting together the name of one of the boys and the Greek god of nature and shepherds, Pan – a lively and very naughty god with the legs and horns of a goat who is, of course, forever young: Peter Pan, which was alternately titled “The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up,” was first performed in London, England, on December 27, 1904, at the Duke of York Theatre. It has since become one of the most widely performed and adapted children’s stories in the world. It is also Barrie’s best-known work, though he was a prolific author writing in a number of genres. Critics believe that one reason Peter Pan was successful from the first is that Barrie combined fantasy and adventure in a way not done before. The play offers a fresh means of storytelling that appeals to both adults and children. While children enjoy the imaginative story and flights of fancy, adults can relate to Peter Pan’s desire to forego mature responsibilities and live in the moment.

What the story Peter Pan describes is death; our fears of death and our wishes to overcome death to be immortal; however, it is also a fantastic escapist story about living in the moment, faith and trust.

Understanding J.M. Barrie and the Origin of Peter Pan

Fantasy (and its meaning)

There were quite a few ranges of books that I had thought about; I made a list of six possible books, and tried a few rough ideas to start off. Though, each book on my list was very good and this left me torn between which to choose; I struggled to reach this final conclusion that is listed above.

My reason for this selection is simple; I love good escapist fantasy stories with heart, bravery and meaning; a good fantasy story, for me, has to have a strong connection to real life, but, living outside the boundaries of realities rules. Ultimately I think of fantasy stories as intriguing fun.

Fantasy to me always asks the question, “what if ?”(or “let’s pretend”). It is also the dreaming of a better place; and what it does is, it tries to find meaning and explain human beliefs/ life.

Fantasy is a genre of fiction that commonly uses magic and other supernatural phenomena as a primary plot element, theme or setting. The identifying traits of fantasy are the inclusion of fantastic elements in a self-coherent (internally consistent) setting, where inspiration from mythology and folklore remains a consistent theme. Within such a structure, any location of the fantastical element is possible: it may be hidden in, or leak into the apparently real world setting, it may draw the characters into a world with such elements, or it may occur entirely in a fantasy world setting, where such elements are part of the world. Essentially, fantasy follows rules of its own making, allowing magic and other fantastic devices to be used and still be internally cohesive.


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