Each of the functions of fantasy described by J. R. R. Tolkien in his essay “On Fairy‐Stories” can be reframed through affordance theory into a kind of re‐visioning. Such re‐visioning is comparable to the formalist notion of defamiliarization or the science fiction technique that Darko Suvin called “cognitive estrangement.” Whereas science fiction projects alternative futures, fantasy's affordances allow writers to generate alternative worldviews grounded in real or invented mythic pasts. The initial move away from claiming to imitate reality allows fantasy writers to project inner experience onto an outer storyworld (there is no pathetic fallacy in fantasy), to depict multiple contradictory selves (housed within a single body or spread out over several characters), and to invite readers to consider alternatives to commonsense assumptions and seemingly inevitable social orders.

You do not currently have access to this content.