~posted by Meranda T.
Classic Fantasy is both old and new. What we casually think of as Fantasy is relatively new. However, Fantasy has been around for ages if we take into consideration fairy tales, myths, folk stories, and legends. Look to the Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault, Yei Theodora Ozaki, and many more for translations of stories that were once only passed on by word of mouth. Here are some Classic Fantasy authors you may not have heard of before.
George MacDonald has been referenced as influencing C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and possibly even Mark Twain! Keeping this in mind, I recommend Phantastes. This book starts when our narrator receives his father’s desk on his 21st birthday. This mundane item is the start of his adventures in Fairyland, where he constantly gets in trouble. First published in 1858, I enjoyed reading this tale of a walk in Fairyland. I found it interesting to see the difference in a Fantasy novel from 1858 compared to our own time.
You may be familiar with the works of L. Frank Baum and his Wonderful Wizard of Oz; I recommend Ozma of Oz from this series. It has a different theme from the first two books. Dorothy is trying to get to Oz instead of already being there. Instead of Toto, Dorothy is followed by her chicken Billina and eventually gets to meet the rest of her friends again. It was great to see them again. Not only that but this book helps you learn many new things, like how poisonous eggs are to Nomes!
Hope Mirrlees, an inspiration to Neil Gaiman, wrote Lud-in-the-Mist. Two countries exist right next to each other: one of them is Fairyland and no one in their right mind would go there, much less talk about it. In fact, talking about Fairyland is an offense so grave people will shun you and it leaves a stain on your family name. However, keeping separate from such a magical land proves very difficult. I liked the writing style and found this book to be very amusing. It was a joy to read.
Robert E. Howard, for his short life, influenced a lot of people. Many became imitators of his style. He is regarded as the creator of a fantasy genre known as sword and sorcery. Conan the Barbarian is probably his most well known character from this genre. However, he had many characters, as seen in The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane. Both Conan and Solomon face many fantastical elements on their journeys and both have had movies, comics, homages from other authors, and much more. While they were originally considered pulp, I find these stories to be fascinating and a great read. I have read his novels from time to time and occasionally get teased for reading pulp but that does not deter me from enjoying it.
Classic Fantasy has influenced many. I hope you’ll read some of them and be able to see who they influenced and how.