I had thought that David Daiches coined the useful term topographic romance, in his 1947 monograph for New Directions on Robert Louis Stevenson (The MakersMessage 1 of 31 , Nov 9, 2012View SourceI had thought that David Daiches coined the useful term "topographic romance," in his 1947 monograph for New Directions on Robert Louis Stevenson (The Makers of Modern Literature series). Reviewing my copy and doing a quick Google search leads me to think that it may be I who coined the term. This is a category of stirring fiction that includes Stevenson's Kidnapped, various thrillers by John Buchan and Geoffrey Household, Adams's Watership Down and Plague Dogs, and other tales set in real landscapes. While fantastic romances such as Morris's Water of the Wondrous Isles feature fairly closely-realized imaginary landscapes, it is supremely Tolkien who showed how fantasy may adapt the methods of the writer of topographic romance. The landscape must seem real and as if it had been there a long time before the adventures begin. I would go so far as to say that alert readers must sense that delight in the creation of these landforms and waterways is a principal concern of the writer-artist.
It would be interesting to explore the possibility that this kind of romance-writing coincides with and was even influenced by the British Ordnance Survey (cf. Rachel Hewitt's Map of a Nation) and its very detailed topographic maps. The love of Tolkien, Lewis, and other fantasy writers for walking tours and rambles is well known, but I think we would also find that they tended to like maps (and of course Bilbo had a map of the Shire with his favorite walks marked on it).
But to return to the link with the Ordnance Survey -- this matter is one where scientific advances (the devices and procedures for the accurate mapping of the earth's surface) were, so to speak, appropriated by imaginative writers for unexpected purposes.
Also, topographically-oriented fantasy should probably be considered with reference to the concurrent explosion in the 19th and 20th centuries of travel writing. Perhaps I could mention my paper “There and Back Again and Other Travel Books of the 1930s.” Mallorn: The Journal of the Tolkien Society 51 (Spring 2011): 19-23.
From: John Davis <john@...>
Sent: Friday, November 9, 2012 5:20 AM
Subject: [mythsoc] Landscape
Does anyone know of any books (or even published articles) written on the importance of landscape in fantasy? I'm sure there must be some out there, but a quick trawl of Amazon and ABE failed to find me any.John
Some more contributions: City of Lost Children Dreamchild (part fantasy bio of Lewis Carroll, starring Ian Holm) Return to Oz The Navigator (1988, party ofMessage 31 of 31 , Nov 14, 2012View SourceSome more contributions:City of Lost ChildrenDreamchild (part fantasy bio of Lewis Carroll, starring Ian Holm)Return to OzThe Navigator (1988, party of 14th Cent. pilgrims travel into the future to find a way to fight the plague)Time BanditsWings of DesireSteve Gaddis
Tarsem Singh's "The Fall".
Del Toro's "Pan's Labyrinth".
Everything Hayao Miyazaki has done for Studio Ghibli.
-- David Emerson
Would listfolk like to offer their nominations for films that prove that the motion picture may be an art form truly worthy of the fantastic imagination?