Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Jane Yolen on Fantasy

Apropos of the previous discussion on Dragon Age, I have always loved the following quote by Jane Yolen:
And for adults, the world of fantasy books returns to us the great words of power which, in order to be tamed, we have excised from our adult vocabularies. These words are the pornography of innocence, words which adults no longer use with other adults, and so we laugh at them and consign them to the nursery, fear masking as cynicism. These are the words that were forged in the earth, air, fire, and water of human existence, and the words are:

Love. Hate. Good. Evil. Courage. Honor. Truth.

— Jane Yolen, Touch Magic: Fantasy, Faerie & Folklore in the Literature of Childhood

Perhaps in the process of making a work of fantasy "adult", you end up robbing it of some of its potential power.


  1. Try imagining Harry Potter as an "adult" fantasy series.

    Or on the flip side, try imagining Fight Club as PG rated.

  2. Well I guess Fight Club wouldn't be considered a fantasy, but you get what I'm trying to say lol

  3. I'm not exactly sure why, maybe it's the alcohol I've had tonight, but moreso it must be the truth of the quote. I was saddend, quite literally to tears, just by the 7 words themselves. It really sucks to realize, as much as we want to capture it, we lose the magic that these words mean and become so cynical to their useage that I don't know that I can read a fantasy story the same way I did growing up.

  4. I loved Jane Yolen when I was in middle school. One thing I've always enjoyed about fantasy is the fact that people can be held to a higher standard that people in real life might only aspire to.

    I am looking forward to Dragon Age, since I enjoyed Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights, but given the chance I already know that my character's going to be the bastion of honor in what's looking like an increasingly amoral world, because that's fun too. :)