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Fantasy is a type of speculative fiction set in a hypothetical realm that is often based on myth and folklore from the actual world. Its origins may be traced back to oral traditions, which evolved into fantasy literature and play. It has spread into a variety of mediums since the twentieth century, including film, television, graphic novels, manga, animated films, and video games.
The absence of scientific or macabre elements distinguishes fantasy from the genres of science fiction and horror, however these genres overlap. The fantasy genre is most commonly associated with medieval settings in popular culture. Fantasy, in its widest definition, encompasses works by a wide range of authors, painters, filmmakers, and musicians, ranging from ancient tales and stories to numerous current and popular works.
The employment of magic or other supernatural aspects as a primary story element, topic, or location is common in fantasy. Many of these worlds have magic and magical beings.
The author’s employment of narrative elements that are not dependent on history or nature to be cohesive is a distinguishing feature of fantasy. This contrasts from realistic fiction in that realistic literature must take into account reality’s history and natural laws, whereas fantasy does not. In fantasy literature, the author invents people, circumstances, and locations that are impossible to imagine in real life.
Many fantasy authors draw inspiration from real-life folklore and mythology, and while the inclusion of supernatural elements such as magic is a defining aspect of the fantasy genre, it is not required.
Because science fiction and horror are the two most popular types of speculative fiction, fantasy is frequently contrasted to them. The realism of the story components distinguishes fantasy from science fiction. Science fiction stories are implausible, even if they appear to be conceivable through rational scientific or technical extension, but fantasy stories do not have to be scientifically possible.
To create effective fantasies, authors must rely on the readers’ suspension of disbelief, or their willingness to accept the absurd or impossible for the purpose of entertainment. Fantasy and horror are distinct genres, despite their significant dependence on the supernatural in both. The heroes’ flaws or incapacity to deal with the adversaries are the primary sources of terror in horror films.
From the outset, supernatural and fantastic elements have been a part of literature. The ancient Akkadian Epic of Gilgamesh contains fantasy elements throughout. The Enûma Eli, an ancient Babylonian creation epic in which the deity Marduk slays the goddess Tiamat, incorporates the concept of a cosmic conflict between good and evil, which is common in modern fantasy.
In ancient Egypt, there were romance and fantastical literature genres. The Tales of the Court of King Khufu, preserved in the Westcar Papyrus and most likely written in the second half of the eighth century BC, is a combination of stories with elements of historical fiction, fantasy, and satire. The traditions of Osiris and his son Horus are preserved in Egyptian funerary writings, with the narratives of Osiris and his son Horus being the most important.
Adult myths with amazing features were a popular genre in ancient Greek literature. Aristophanes’ plays are full of extraordinary aspects, especially The Birds, in which an Athenian man establishes a city in the sky with the birds and defies Zeus’ power. Both Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Apuleius’ The Golden Ass inspired the creation of the fantasy genre by incorporating legendary aspects into human narratives. In both pieces, humans are converted into animals or inanimate objects, resulting in intricate storylines.
The contemporary fantasy genre is heavily influenced by Platonic doctrines and early Christian theology. Many of Plato’s ideas were conveyed through allegories, and early Christian writers viewed both the Old and New Testaments as using parables to communicate spiritual truths. This ability to derive meaning from a narrative that isn’t physically real formed the foundation on which the contemporary fantasy genre grew.