Edited By Jadwiga Wegrodzka
Recent Secondary World Fantasy: Farewell to the hero?
The protagonist or, perhaps, more properly, “the hero”, regardless in what sort of categories we are going to speak about him/her (popular, anthropological, critical or genological), appears as one of the key elements of the modern exomimetic (Zgorzelski 2004: 32) genre convention of Secondary World Fantasy (subsequently abbreviated to SWF). This is suggested even by the very name of the genre variation of “heroic fantasy”, which, actually, is frequently used by various critics and researchers to refer to rather diverse collections of fantasy texts, at times encompassing the whole of SWF. However, even if the term “heroic fantasy” is applied to only one specific genre variant of SWF, as is the case in this study, the issue of the protagonist – or the hero – very much concerns all other historical genre variants and types of SWF. In other words, the presence of the hero (howsoever described) seems to be inherent to the genre structures as such. This assumption might be supported by a large bulk of critical work partly or entirely devoted to the description of fantasy heroes. However, most of such articles take cultural or critical literary positions; they focus, for example, on anthropological significance of fantasy heroes or their similarity to various mythical figures, and analyse them in a broader cultural context1. What seems to be lacking, is a more theoretical discussion of the protagonist – the hero – as an integral element of the genre which entails analysing him/her in relation to all...
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