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The fantastic: a subtle, engaging and revealing register!

Great follower of this register in particular, both in reading and writing, I am delighted to be able to tell you a little more about the fantastic.

The different literary genres

First, let’s make a global point. There are several literary genres:

  • poetic,
  • narrative,
  • theatrical,
  • epistolary,
  • argumentative,
  • descriptive,
  • graphics
  • And experimental.

Each has subgenera and registers. If you want to know more about the subject, I invite you to consult this page which will detail you perfectly the various genres, subgenres and registers in literature: To know more.

Thus, the fantastic is a register, classified in the narrative genre. Until then, you follow me? Perfect. It is not easy to find oneself, I grant you …


The fantastic: between magic and reality!

Let us now get to the heart of the matter: the fantastic. In this literary register, the supernatural is introduced and evolves in a realistic framework. The hero has a reaction of rejection or fear in the face of the supernatural events to which he is confronted. Not to be confused with fantasy or the wonderful. In fantasy, as in the marvelous, the supernatural is accepted and often used to define the rules of an imaginary world; The evoked imaginary is perceived as a norm and far removed from our reality … (The Lord of the Rings, A Song of Ice and Fire, Harry Potter …).


The origins of the fantastic register

Definition given, let us pass to the origins of the fantastic. The true source of this genre is the English Gothic novel, which appeared at the end of 1785. At that time, authors created a more pronounced atmosphere of horror in their works, propelling readers into a common query: what is real And what is not? In France, the authors are inspired by these novels and propose works called “frenetic” (or called “black romance”), including in these last the taste for the macabre or the horror. Frenetic romanticism thus rejected the spirit of the Enlightenment, as did the classical rigor of the time.

Finally, strong in these influences, the fantastic register was born in Germany at the beginning of the 19th century thanks to the writer Adelbert von Chamisso. But it is Hoffmann (Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann) who will have a universal influence on this register. Moreover, it is through his tales, translated into French in the 1830s, that the Fantastic will experience a real rise in France. Great authors have tried it: Honoré de Balzac, Théophile Gautier and Guy de Maupassant. It should be noted that the fantasy registry has often been used to circumvent censorship, and to disseminate, for example, political criticism or certain claims without fear of possible retaliation.


A subtle, engaging and revealing register!

The characteristic of the fantastic would be to reveal things that are usually hidden and that we do not want to see.

According to Lovecraft, the fantasy must provoke a fear in order to generate a catharsis (releasing its repressed emotions) in the reader. Thus, the supernatural manifestations in the fantastic are mostly harmful, but it is, it seems, for our good! I do not get tired of it!


Where to find the fantastic book in the books?

In a non-exhaustive way, I quote here some of the literary works, in the fantastic register, the best known or which have had an impact in the appearance of this register:

  • Otranto Castle, Horace Walpole, 1764 (inaugurates the genre of the Gothic novel);
  • Vathek, William Beckford (one of the leading novels of frenetic tendency, written in French by an English author in 1786);
  • The Elixirs of the Devil, Hoffmann, 1815;
  • The elixir of long life, Honoré de Balzac, 1830;
  • The Leader of Wolves, Alexandre Dumas, 1857;
  • The Horla, Guy de Maupassant, 1887;
  • He who haunted the darkness, H. P Lovecraft, 1935;
  • Shining, the Light Child, Stephen King, 1977;
  • Journal of a Vampire, L.J.Smith, 1991;
  • Twilight, Stephenie Meyer, 2005.

To conclude, I will reveal to you what I like to think:

The fantastic is to be free, while keeping a little bit the feet on Earth …

Article written by Maud Wlek, author of Nayra.