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5512Why the middle ages are so popular in fiction

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  • Pauline J. Alama
    Mar 8, 2002
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      I have often wondered myself why the middle ages are such fertile country for fantasy. I think one answer may be that the medieval writers themselves wrote backward-looking, fantastical adventures -- medieval romances are generally set in some misty far-off time, the time of Arthur or the Roman age or something -- even when, on close inspection, this misty far-off time looks a lot like a more highly colored version of the writer's own time (e.g., tournaments were popular in the 12th century, and so 12th-century writers like Chretien put them in Arthurian romances, where they have become a fixture).

      In answer to the Luddite question -- I think the term "antimodernist" is better, as less derogatory and clearer. And I think it fits Tolkien.

      Pauline J. Alama
      71 Chestnut St.
      Rutherford NJ 07070
      (201) 460-3662

      --- On Fri 03/08, <jamcconney@...> wrote:
      > Well, this has made me think a bit. Why is so much fantasy laid in the
      > "generic Middle Ages"? Is it a sort of desire to get back to
      > simpler things
      > while conveniently ignoring such matters as outside toilets, half year
      > journeys, lugging your water from the well in a bucket, reading and
      > writing
      > by candlelight with goosequill pens?
      > I admit I'm just as much into this as anybody, as I work in a rather
      > desultory way on a long fantasy set in just such a world (it's science
      > fictional in that it's another planet, one that has used up its natural
      > resources and been forced back to nature by severe shorages of almost all
      > the
      > materials needed for technology. I didn't place it in the real middle ages
      > because I wanted to make up my own sociology, geography, history and so
      > on--rather like McCaffrey's Pern but without dragons).
      > So I ask again--why so much fantasy set in the medieval milieu rather
      > than,
      > say, that of ancient Rome or the 18th century?
      > Jamaq
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