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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Feb. 13, 1975)
Students spend more knights with elves, fairies
Fairies, hobbits, elves and knights are the magical
stuff of children's stories and illustrations. The myth
and folklore underlying the tales, however, illicit a
deep, sympathetic response from not only children,
If the brisk sale of fantasy posters, cards and
fantasy fiction to college students and adults is any
indication, not just children are reading the books
and admiring the illustrations.
A trend today reveals a paradox: A growing
violence in children's books, and an increase in adult
Adults seek escape
While young protagonists struggle to cope with
alienation, drugs, premarital sex and suicide, adults
seem to seek meaning or, in contrast, thoughtless
escape, in by-gone eras or fantasy worlds.
Fantasy is an exploration or manipulation of
reality, not escapism, according to English Professor
Gene Hardy, who teaches two classes of children's
People seeking answers to existence, Hardy said,
find a deeper, original reality in fantasy.
He added that good and evil are personal, never
vague, forces in fantasy. There is a sense that
providence and meaning exist.
Alexander partly attributes the growing
fascination with fantasy to a "weariness of always
being "cool". We can "laugh harder, weep longer" he
Hardy dates the revival of the fantasy genre to the
rediscovery in the 1960s of Tolkien's Lord of the
Rings trilogy. Over 100,000 copies a year are still
being sold he said.
Adults and children are buying and reading the
same books, Hardy said, adding that the division
between adult and children's fantasy literature is
arbitrary-all ages share the works together.
Mary Somerville, children's coordinator for the
Lincoln Public Libraries, said that adults, including
many college students, are becoming less hesitant to
seek and read good children's books.
Somerville said that she sees a movement away
from dry, realistic fiction, and toward mystical or
Hardy noted that this movement was evident in
the enrollments for his English Children's Literature
classes. In 1972 thru 73, the class attracted 18
students, he said. Two hundred students enrolled this
Fantasy zealots are not limited to the printed
page. Illustrations of turn of the century artists can
be found in reissued anthologies, calendars, book
marks and note paper.
Comapnies, like California's Green liger Press,
specialize in reprints of the illustrations of Howard
Pyle, Arthur Rackham and Beatrix Potter.
Bill Cummins, a buyer for Nebraska Bookstore,
said that the lines of fantasy and nostalgia reprint
posters are very popular with university students.
Besides their appeal as meticulous, pleasing art,
Somerville said, many of the illustrations include a
tremendous use of color and magical, fantastic scenes.
This colorful imagery, she said, may be connected
the popularity created by the "White Rabbit"
imagery and psychedelics of the 1960s' drug scene.
Fantasy is also closely associated with the revival
of mysticism and spiritualism, she said.
People are turning to visionary art, Somerville said,
as well as visionary literature, and away from
Hardy said that he thinks there is a difference
between the posters, like Maxfield Parrish's, which
appeal simply to nostalgia and sentimentalism, and
the person seriously reading fantasy.
Paradoxical movements are afoot simultaneously
he said. Students are searching for meanings,
exploring spiritualism and alternative states of mind
at a time of romantic escapism and nostalgia.
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