First, the brainy and still making my head spin around with the ideas: Why there is no Jewish Narnia from the brand new Jewish Review of Books. The author, Michael Weingrad, examines why there is no Jewish fantasy author on par with Tolkein and Lewis, particularly given the depth and history of Jewish mysticism.
His answers and ideas are so thoughtful and interesting I am still pondering, and I had to share. If you’re a fantasy or science fiction fan, this article looks at the genres from allegorical perspectives, and draws some conclusions as to why Jewish writers number very few among the fantasy genre:
Some readers may have already expressed surprise at my assertion that Jews do not write fantasy literature. Haven’t modern Jewish writers, from Kafka and Bruno Schulz to Isaac Bashevis Singer and Cynthia Ozick, written about ghosts, demons, magic, and metamorphoses? But the supernatural does not itself define fantasy literature, which is a more specific genre. It emerged in Victorian England, and its origins are best understood as one of a number of cultural salvage projects that occurred in an era when modern materialism and Darwinism seemed to drive religious faith from the field. Religion’s capacity for wonder found a haven in fantasy literature….
To put it crudely, if Christianity is a fantasy religion, then Judaism is a science fiction religion. If the former is individualistic, magical, and salvationist, the latter is collective, technical, and this-worldly. Judaism’s divine drama is connected with a specific people in a specific place within a specific history. Its halakhic core is not, I think, convincingly represented in fantasy allegory. In its rabbinic elaboration, even the messianic idea is shorn of its mythic and apocalyptic potential. Whereas fantasy grows naturally out of Christian soil, Judaism’s more adamant separation from myth and magic render classic elements of the fantasy genre undeveloped or suspect in the Jewish imaginative tradition. Let us take two central examples: the magical world and the idea of evil.
Christianity has a much more vivid memory and even appreciation of the pagan worlds which preceded it than does Judaism.
If you like a little analysis, comparative religion and discussion of world building and fantastic allegory with your coffee, enjoy that. I’m still pondering and would love to hear what you think.
From the brainful to the bodaciously awesome, we have one link containing a whollle lot of awesome: bid early, bid often in the 2010 Brenda Novak Diabetes Auction. Bid Early, Bid Often. I have one item up for bid, an author interview that may or may not create a lifetime of minty-fresh breath.
And finally: brainful, bodaciously awesome, and… Bwuhr? Everything I need to know about the internet, I learned from Fandom Wank. Today’s lesson, fanfic!
Fanfic is a hot topic, and no, not the kind where you shop for really tiny t shirts and shorts that require a bikini wax. Some authors hate it, some loathe it, and Diana Gabaldon wants to set it on fire. I much prefer Jim Butcher’s approach, which uses Creative Commons licenses to delineate what belongs to whom and wherefore and why and whatnot.
LauraBryannan wisely states in the thread that, “If something is popular, there will be a fandom created for it.” Is this the wrong time to confess I totally wrote Archie/Betty fanfic based on Archie comics? Probably. I can’t believe he ended up with Veronica. I think I might have to go find that middle school notebook of mine.
Either that, or I need some hot Jewish fantasy fanfic, like, Right Now. Who’s in?