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The Fantastic

In The Fantastic, Tzvetan Todorov seeks to examine both generic theory and a particular genre, moving back and forth between a poetics of the fantastic itself and a metapoetics or theory of theorizing, even as he suggest that one must, as a critic, move back and forth between theory and history, between idea and fact. His work on the fantastic is indeed about a historical phenomenon that we recognize, about specific works that we may read, but it is also about the use and abuse of generic theory. As an essay in fictional poetics, The Fantastic is consciously structuralist in its approach to the generic subject. Todorov seeks linguistic bases for the structural features he notes in a variety of fantastic texts, including Potocki's The Sargasso Manuscript, Nerval's Aurelia, Balzac's The Magic Skin, the Arabian Nights, Cazotte's Le Diable Amoureux, Kafka's The Metamorphosis, and tales by E. T. A. Hoffman, Charles Perrault, Guy de Maupassant, Nicolai Gogol, and Edgar A. Poe.
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Table of Contents

Foreword, by Robert Scholes 1. Literary Genres 2. Definition of the Fantastic 3. The Uncanny and the Marvelous 4. Poetry and Allegory 5. Discourse of the Fantastic 6. Themes of the Fantastic: Introduction 7. Themes of the Self 8. Themes of the Other 9. Themes of the Fantastic: Conclusion 10. Literature and the Fantastic Index


"This work is much more than what its title might imply to an American reader. It is not simply another 'formalist' categorizing of a particular literary genre. Todorov involves himself in a consideration of the concept of literary genre (with a perceptive critique of Northrop Frye), a detailed and perceptive discourse on 'the fantastic,' ... and finally a philosophical-historical discussion of the relation of 'the fantastic' to literature itself... This is an important work for anyone interested in criticism in general or in the criticism of fiction in particular."-Choice "This, the first of Todorov's books to be translated into English (it was originally published in French in 1970), is brilliant... Todorov's attempt to formulate a general theory for studying themes without subordinating literary theory to the social sciences makes this book indispensable to serious students of lietarture."-Library Journal

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