British Fantasy and the Jewish Question, pt. 4

JOAN AIKEN'S THE WHISPERING MOUNTAIN British fantasy’s ruminations on the exile and restoration of the Jews reach a whimsical, latter-day conclusion in Joan Aiken’s children’s novel The Whispering Mountain (1968). Set in a fantastical nineteenth-century Wales, the book is a prequel to Aiken’s series that takes place in an alternate-history Britain in which the Hanovers … Continue reading British Fantasy and the Jewish Question, pt. 4

British Fantasy and the Jewish Question, pt. 3: From Late Victorian Fantasy to Tolkien

At least one major Victorian fantasy writer, George MacDonald, was at times quite warm toward the Jews, and a landmark of British literary philosemitism, George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda, was published in 1876. Nevertheless, among the writers of late Victorian fantastic fiction, negative stereotypes of Jews outweigh positive representations, a trend that continued into the twentieth-century. … Continue reading British Fantasy and the Jewish Question, pt. 3: From Late Victorian Fantasy to Tolkien

British Fantasy and the Jewish Question, pt. 1

Tolkien’s dwarves, as has often been pointed out, are based on the Jews. While the band that shows up at the home of Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit has roots in northern European sources such as the Poetic Edda, Tolkien also gives Thorin Oakenshield and company a story of exile and a powerful yearning to … Continue reading British Fantasy and the Jewish Question, pt. 1

The Occult Jew, pt. 4

J. R. R. Tolkien’s famous essay “On Fairy Stories,” first delivered as a lecture in 1939, is a pioneering text in the definition of the fantasy genre. It is notable that Tolkien takes pains here to distinguish between what he means by fantasy literature, which displays the benevolent quality he calls “enchantment,” and another sort … Continue reading The Occult Jew, pt. 4