Maggie A's Meanderings

 
 

 

 

 April 14, 2013

My First Fantasy Book?


Recently I read a webpage where the person said his first fantasy novel was the Dragonlance trilogy. That made me ask myself what was the first fantasy I had read? It wasn't Dragonlance. The Dragonlance books were something I wouldn't have touched with a ten-foot dragon lance, but in trying to figure out what was my first fantasy book, I came to a screeching halt.......

Probably my equivalent to that person's Dragonlance (i.e. books read by adults as well as young adults with little to no illustrations, labeled as "Fantasy" and in the fantasy section of the bookstore) was the work of J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, read when I was 12 or 13 years old. But was that actually my first fantasy?

Because then I got to thinking about what those Middle-earth books had in them: wizards, a dragon, heroes, good magic and evil magic, swords and fighting. Wait, didn't I already read that in the Brothers Grimm and the Arabian Nights? And what about that book on the knights of Camelot.........monsters, a wizard, good & bad magic, heroes sword fighting.......how is that not fantasy? Or that book of Greek myths, lots of monsters, fighting and magic in that.


But were even those my first fantasy? What about The Wizard of Oz? Now that I came to think about it, I had read a lot of books about fairies and magic in my childhood. Some of them were recently written while some of them pre-dated me. Did the stuff written in my lifetime count as "fantasy" while The Wizard of Oz or the stories of Hans Christian Andersen count as something else because the "fantasy" genre didn't exist as such when they were written?

Then there were all those books I read about talking animals when I was a kid. Humanlike, talking animals sound like fantasy worlds to me.

Thinking further back to my earliest books, I wondered were any of them fantasy? One of the first books I was given was pop-up book about a princess from the moon and had a sea dragon in it --- again sounds like a fantasy to me though technically it's a piece of traditional folklore.
But are stories supposed to not be fantasy because they're old tales and myths? Because Beowulf sure seems like fantasy to me. If someone wrote Beowulf today it would go into the fantasy section.

Also among my earliest books were the hand-me-downs of Dr. Seuss. Those Seuss books definitely had some crazy stuff in them. Weird animals living in even weirder worlds. Maybe the works of Dr. Seuss were my first fantasy.

My mind was tangled in recollections of a lifetime of reading. And I came to the conclusion that if anyone ever asked me what my first fantasy book was, I'd have to treat like I would if someone asked me if I believed in god......I'd have to ask them to tell me their definition of "god," and I could tell them if I believed in it. Here it would be, "Tell me your definition of a fantasy, and I'll tell you what was my first." Because I think we've all been reading fantasy far longer than we realize.

fantasy book


For more about books there's, "4 Classic Novels that Are Way More Depressing than You Think They Are Based on the Movies - Part I" and "4 Classic Novels that Are Way More Depressing than You Think They Are Based on the Movies - Part II," "Dune, Evil and the Bene Gesserit" and "The Usual Characters."

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