Reason, Connor (2015) Fantastical detectives: a discussion on the genre conventions of fantasy and detective fiction and the ideas of hybridization in both classic and contemporary literature. BA dissertation, University of Portsmouth.
Fantasy and Detective Fiction have been some of the most popular and distinctive genres for the past century. Ever since the early successes of literary examples such as Sherlock Holmes ( 1887 - 1927) by Arthur Conan-Doyle and The Lord of the Rings (1954-55) by J.R.R. Tolkien, each of these different genres has maintained lasting popularity. In this essay I will be discussing whether these two genres hold similar tropes and conventions and how they can be blended or as John Stuhr in The Journal of Speculative Philosophy (2015) observes, "hybridised" (Stuhr, 2015) to create a unique et familiar story which stays true to the notions of plot, characterisation, setting and theme.
The idea of genre hybridisation is not exempt from criticism. David Duff mention in his edited work Modern Genre Theory (2000) that the very word 'genre' seems to "deny autonomy of the author, deny uniqueness of the text, deny spontaneity, originality and self expression" (Duff, 2000, pl). He also makes mention that as soon as the word 'genre' is sounded, as soon as it is heard, as soon as one attempts to conceive it, a limit is drawn" (Duff, 2000 p221) and further goes on to mention "one must respect the norm, one must not cross the line of demarcation, one must not risk impurity, anomaly or monstrosity (Duff, 2000, p221) and that bluntly "genres should not be mixed" (Duff, 2000, p219). I disagreed with this idea. Genres act as a positive aspect of literature as it allows both writers and people to easily identify works of fiction in culture. As an experiment, I decided to defy the idea that genres should not be mixed by taking familiar tropes from the popular examples of Fantasy and Detective Fiction and mix them together.
To gain a greater understanding of genre hybridisation, I collected a number of examples of both classical and contemporary literature. For the genre of Detective Fiction, I used the short stories The Adventure of the Speckled Band (1892) by Arthur Conan-Doyle and Blackmailers Don't Shoot (l933) by Raymond Chandler in order to better understand the style in which these two famed writers used in developing their stories . For Fantasy, I decided to focus on contemporary stories by authors who have attempted a similar venture to me with my examples being The Blade Itself (2006) by Joe Abercrombie and Rivers of London (2011) by Ben Aaronovitch. The works of these authors and the secondary research I conducted influenced the creation of my own creative a1tefact, The Burning Man (2014) which combines all of their techniques together to better understand the results of hybridization.
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