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Therapy Through Faёrie

Therapeutic Properties of Fantasy Literature by the Inklings and by U. K. Le Guin

Anna Cholewa-Purgal

This book argues that the fantasy fiction rooted in J. R. R. Tolkien’s concept of Faёrie, as represented by the fantasy works of the Inklings and of U. K. Le Guin, has certain psychotherapeutic properties. Faёrie’s generic ‘ethos’ seems to draw on ‘moral imagination’ and on logos (meaning and word), which informs its secondary worlds and encourages a search for an unconditional sense of life, against the postmodern neo-nihilistic aporia. The book postulates an applicability of logotherapy (‘therapy through meaning’, developed after WW2 by Victor Frankl,) to the workings of Faёrie, whose bibliotherapeutic potential rests on its generic marks, identified by Tolkien as Fantasy, Recovery, Escape (breaking free from incarcerating meaninglessness), Consolation, and (cathartic) Eucatastrophe.

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Primary sources

Barfield, Owen, Poetic Diction: A Study in Meaning (London: Wesleyan Paperback, 1984)

Havard, Robert, ‘Jack at ease’ [in:] C. S. Lewis at the Breakfast Table, and Other Reminiscences, James T. Como, ed. (London: Harcourt Publishers, 1992)

Le Guin, Ursula, The Language of the Night. Essays on Fantasy and Science Fiction, Susan Wood, ed. (New York: Berkley Books 1982)

– The Earthsea Quartet: A Wizard of Earthsea, The Farthest Shores, The Tombs of Atuan, Tehanu (London: Penguin Books, 1993)

– The Other Wind (London: Orion, 2004)

– Tales from Earthsea (London: Orion, 2003)

– The Left Hand of Darkness (New York: Ace Books, 1987)

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