I realise this may well be a non-argument considering the nature of these forums, however, what is your opinion on the whole fantasy versus reality debate in literature? By this I mean comments expressing the sentiment that literature should be about real people and real stories.
I recently came across an article in a well-known magazine here in the UK reviewing Game of Thrones. The gist of the article was that despite everyone else telling the author that he’d like it, he did not. The reason was that none of it felt real or believable. The author of the piece said he wanted real stories, in real situations. I naturally found this amusing, as there are other articles out there that praise Game of Thrones and pinpoint it’s success on real, believable characters.
In my opinion, I find those who call for literature to be able real things to be missing the point. Even fiction that is set in our present day, and uses ‘real’ characters, is equally unreal as fantasy. It’s fiction after all, and when you look at it, none of it is real. The point is, even fiction that grounds itself in reality is in itself, unreal. If you want to demand that all literature, or art for that matter, trade in ‘real’ things, you’re missing the point. I refer back to Plato’s ideas on art as imitation in these matters. To summarise, Plato argued that all art is imitation, as the artist creates an impression of, say a table, rather than a real table. So if you want to cut to the heart of the matter, all fiction isn’t real.
If you ask me, claims that literature must deal with real people, in real settings, is quite an illusion because of its inherent fictitious nature. Moreover, I think this stance also comes from a utilitarian perspective that is imposed upon books. For some, things that do not serve a use should be cast out, and this anxiety is greatest for things that deal in unrealities. Realist fiction can escape this anxiety because it attempts to deal with real things. Fantasy, or any other fiction that is not sticking to our reality, is exposed to such scrutiny. When I was growing up, my parents actually tried to get me to read ‘grown-up’ fiction by various authors instead of fantasy. The idea was that fantasy was immature and childish because it blatantly had nothing to do with reality. The result was I just stopped reading.
While I personally lean heavily towards fantasy and other such genres, I find that fiction should not be restricted, as its about a freedom to think and read beyond the confines of our reality. At the heart of it, every single piece of fiction does that.
Anyway, I’m curious, what do you all think?