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Title: Fairyland in a crowded city : British urban fantasy, 1840-present
Author: Elber-Aviram, H.
ISNI:       0000 0004 8498 5299
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2016
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This study argues that the fictions of Charles Dickens, H.G. Wells, George Orwell, Mervyn Peake, and China Miéville form a tradition of London fantasies that share a fascination with the materiality of the city, and a set of political and social concerns underpinned by a liberal-progressive worldview. The introduction establishes this argument by setting the urban fantasy of Dickens, Wells, Orwell, Peake, and Miéville against a rival tradition of rural, conservative fantasy. Building on Coleridge's distinction between the Imagination and the Fancy, the introduction contends that the 'Rural Imagination' and the 'Urban Fancy' constitute suitable labels with which to designate these rival traditions. Chapter one discusses Dickens's off-the-peg, object-based imagination and its liberal-progressive underpinnings. It shows that Dickens consciously thought of himself as an urban fantasist and that the 1850s and 1860s marked the science-fictionalisation of Dickens's imagination. Chapter two argues that Wells carried forward the Dickensian mode of liberal-progressive London fantasies, but expanded its scope into deep time and deep space. It relates the development of the Urban Fancy tradition to Wells's 'novel of ideas' and to the great expansion of London at the turn of the century. Chapter three contends that Orwell and Peake devised new strategies for writing Urban Fancy at a time when the very idea of progress was under threat. The chapter examines their continuation and departure from Wells's futurist fantasies of London, and discusses their return to Dickensian models of urban locality. Chapter four argues that the SF and fantasy magazine New Worlds brought the Urban Fancy tradition back from its recession under the 'Tolkien Phenomenon'. New Worlds magazine thus set the stage for Miéville's totalising metropolitan fantasies, which ushered the Urban Fancy tradition into a new era of globalised, cosmopolitan London. The chapter concludes with a retrospect on the Urban Fancy tradition.
Supervisor: Dart, G. ; Beaumont, M. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available