Anna Vaninskaya's study of three major fantasists offers an important new perspective on the origins of the genre as a vehicle for philosophical speculation. By grouping J. R. R. Tolkien with his contemporaries Lord Dunsany and E. R. Eddison rather than with C. S. Lewis and the Inklings, she shows how these writers similarly use fantasy to explore time, death, love, and change.
This important book makes a major contribution to our understanding of the impulse to create fantasy. Through a detailed study of three writers working in the first half of the twentieth century - Lord Dunsany, E.R. Eddison and J.R.R. Tolkien - Vaninskaya demonstrates how their invented worlds showcase their very different philosophies, providing them with an experimental testing ground as vibrant and complex as anything created by their modernist contemporaries. Ambitiously conceived, beautifully written and convincingly argued, her narrative helps explain as well as any book in recent memory why so many authors have turned to world creation as a means of expressing 'the nature of mortal existence' at a time of unprecedented global change.
-Dr. Robert Maslen, Senior Lecturer, University of Glasgow, Convener of the MLitt in Fantasy
"This is an important piece of scholarship that offers much-needed critical explorations of the works of Dunsany and Eddison alongside highly original readings of Tolkien's legendarium and manages to help the reader navigate very complex philosophical questions with lucidity. I can see this book being read and enjoyed by general readers too, which is quite an achievement."