Victorian Fantasy Literature Reviews

For all of you who’ve ever wondered why fantasy and science fiction are treated like red-headed stepchildren by the likes of English faculty, book store managers, and literary critics, Karen Michalson’s immensely accessible Victorian Fantasy Literature: Literary Battles with Church and Empire offers some excellent explanations regarding this continuing attitude. . . . The chapter “Fantasy and Victorian Education” should be required reading . . . . Michalson’s engaging tone and the atypical, eccentric natures of her subjects make this tome anything but dry kindling. The combination of historical and biographical information to create contexts for the mental workings of each writer are presented in a tone meant to engage rather than intimidate the reader. Clearly Michalson enjoys her subject, and she wants her audience to share that enjoyment — a rare quality indeed for an academic. . . . There must be more Karen Michalsons. There must.”
— Eva Wojcik-Obert, Fantastica Daily, December 14, 2001   Read the entire review.

“Her material is well-researched and cogently presented, and I find her willingness to discuss texts in terms of the cultural matrices in which they developed not only logical but admirable. . . . definitely an important look not only at major fantasy works of the period, but also at why realistic literature did make it into the canon and fantasy literature did not.”
— C. W. Sullivan III, Science Fiction Research Association Review, No. 202, December 1992

“. . . a fascinating exploration of the origins of Victorian attitudes toward the fantastic, and how those attitudes were perpetuated through the educational system and the development of a literary establishment. . . . she’s also provided a valuable missing chapter in the history of how the ideologies of realism have systematically brutalized the opposition – and how they continue to do so today. In the last few years, a number of sf writers and fans have been rediscovering some of these writers – Kipling in particular – and they may want to check out Michalson’s arguments. They’ll find that although these arguments are complex, her style is refreshingly straightforward and free of critical cant.”
–Gary K. Wolf, Locus, Issue # 382, Vol. 29, No. 5, November 1992