Do You Find a Literary Prejudice against the Fantasy Genre?

Literary Prejudice

Journey photo credit: paul bica via photopin cc

Literary prejudice is an ugly thing.

Years ago I took a night course on short story writing.  (And you may say that while I might have taken it, it didn’t take in my writing.  But whatever.)

My teacher was very able.  (She would say, “Don’t use that word ‘very’ or have too many parenthetical asides.”  But whatever.) 

However she was steeped in the tradition of southern women literature.  That’s about as far as you can get from fantasy and science fiction.

Literary Prejudice

Southern Literature photo credit: leep via photopin cc

It’s difficult to put Scarlett O’Hara in a space ship or riding a dragon.  The hoop skirt is too cumbersome.  Fiddle-de-de.

Furthermore, any modern woman from the south would rather be caught wearing white shoes after Labor Day than be seen with anything as unseemly as an alien or a hobbit.

I asked my teacher toward the end of the weeks if she would read what little I had written in my fantasy novel.  At that time it wasn’t much to read, and frankly looking back on it, the thing was a mess.  But I wanted some feed back. 

Here’s what I got:  “No, I won’t read it.  That’s not my genre.”

What did that mean?  I have a feeling if my book had been a detective story or a high seas adventure or a contemporary love triangle, she would have at least glanced at it.  But not fantasy.   Is there such a thing as literary prejudice?

Which brings me to my thought:  There are many genres but there are only two kinds of writing, the good and the bad.

If Jane Austen were now alive and writing science fiction, wouldn’t her aliens be just as engaging while getting engaged? 

If Charles Dickens had written in any other genre, wouldn’t he still construct memorable minor characters with those amazing names?

If Mark Twain had taken up another genre, wouldn’t his work include his folk humor?

If Leo Tolstoy put his pen to a space trilogy, wouldn’t it have been as long as War & Peace?  For that matter, it might have been called War & Peace.

So, I think, my fantasy and science fiction friends, that we are the stepchildren of the literary world.

O, the literati like the money that comes with a big success, like Harry Potter, Star Wars, or Hunger Games.

But really… sit down and read it?  Don’t let’s be foolish!

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  1. Lucy Wright September 7, 2013 #

    haha love it! I think there is a huge prejudice against fantasy and sci-fi. Even though i know better I have in the back of my mind when I pick up a fantasy novel “this will be fun…but not good” But that’s not true!


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