I have to take exception here. O'Brien is not a
fundamentalist, (an orthodox Catholic could never
be so considered) and "Landscape with Dragons" is hardly
an anti-fantasy diatribe. O'Brien is very highly
respected as a Catholic writer and artist, and his own
books have touched and inspired millions.
"Landscape with Dragons" may not appeal to the
tastes of many pro-fantasy folk, but it provides
insightful commentary on how modernism has coopted
images that traditionally were used to denote evil. It
has "watered them down" for general consumption;
thereby reducing them to a bland relativist mishmash
that makes no sense and teaches no worthwhile truths.
As an example of this, I offer for your
consideration the written version of the original two
"Jungle Books" by Kipling versus the Disney film. The
books were ofttimes dark and dealt with many adult
themes. Compare and contrast them with the Disney
desecration and you have a sense of some of the issues
O'Brien deals with in "Landscape".
Another, perhaps more accurate, comparison would be
to look at "The Lord of the Rings" in comparison to
the "His Dark Materials" trilogy. The former has deep
traditional lessons to impart to the reader, and draws
on the wisdom of myth and northern legend for these.
The latter is a moralistic mess whose ultimate
conclusion, as far as I could ever tell, was that
nothing really matters and that one achieves salvation
through premarital sex. The former is a book that
draws on a "premodern" mindset; the latter is, sadly,
P.S. Yes, there _are_ cultures that depict dragons as
ambivalent or even good omens. But O'Brien is dealing
with occidental, not oriental, tradition and literature.