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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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Chapter One: The Inklings, Ursula Kroeber Le Guin, and Faërie


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Chapter One

The Inklings, Ursula Kroeber Le Guin, and Faërie

The Inklings

When discussing the European literature of the 20th century’s interwar period and the post-war decades of the ‘50s and the ‘60s, a vast majority of literary historians and critics omit to mention the writings of the Inklings or give them scant attention, the group remaining marginal and often ‘dangling’ undealt with. For instance, some of the world’s leading anthologies of English literature: The Norton Anthology of English Literature, (S. Greenblatt et all, eds., 9th ed., 2012), The Oxford Anthology of English Literature, (F. Kermode et all, eds., 1973), and The Longman Anthology of British Literature, (D. Damrosch et all., eds., 4th ed., 2009), do not seem to mention the Inklings, J. R. R. Tolkien, or C. S. Lewis at all. Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th edition, does include an entry on the Inklings, however, from among the Inklings it features only Tolkien and Lewis under individual entries, leaving out the names of the other Inklings completely. The exclusion of the Inklings from among the literary luminaries of that period, which is a frequent case, or, at best, poor coverage of their works in the histories of English literature appears obvious and justifiable on the grounds of the Inklings’ peripheral position to what had arisen to become the modernist and later postmodernist mainstreams, and due to the writers’ considerable opposition to both academically acclaimed trends.1 ← 19 | 20 →

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