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From East to West

The Portrayal of Nature in British Fantasy and its Projection in Ursula K. Le Guin’s Western American "Earthsea"

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Martin Simonson and Jon Alkorta Martiartu

The portrayal of nature in the genre of fantasy fiction, from the Middle Ages to more modern times, has been conditioned by the diverging social, political and historical contexts. This book seeks to disclose how the natural world has been depicted within this genre during different periods, drawing a comparison between the British tradition of fantasy literature and Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea cycle. Le Guin adheres to the general traits of the genre up to a point, but as a woman of the 20th century living in the American West, her works also deviate from the received tradition in many significant ways.

Martin Simonson wrote his Ph.D thesis on the interaction of narrative genres in The Lord of the Rings, and he has published extensively on Tolkien and fantasy literature. He has edited a number of academic books and anthologies on fantasy and fairy tales, and on Western American literature. He has translated about thirty novels, plays and essays into Spanish, among others a number of titles by J.R.R. Tolkien. He currently teaches modern English literature on the BA program of English Studies at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) in Vitoria (Spain), as well as fantasy, science fiction and Gothic novel on the M.A. program of comparative literature at the same university.

Jon Alkorta Martiartu received his Ph.D from the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) in the year 2019, with a comparative study of the problems raised by the idea of progress in canonical British fantasy and the Earthsea universe of Ursula K. Le Guin. He has also helped organize and participated as a speaker in several international conferences in Spain and Portugal.