Escapism

Since I was a teenager, I’ve always harboured an ambition to have my own book published. After reading the truly masterful works of the late great John Tolkien and my personal favourite author Stephen Donaldson, I ventured into the world of fantasy. Now, as a perfectionist when it comes to writing a book, I set myself a precedent as high as they come following in the footsteps of these two. We can all dream!

Tolkien’s most famous works were undoubtedly ‘The Hobbit’ along with ‘The Lord of the Rings Trilogy’. In fact this masterpiece had been labelled the father of ‘high fantasy’, brought a resurgence to the genre and gathered  considerable acclaim. What fascinates me about Tolkien, is the level of depth in the descriptive content of anything he wrote, even to the extent of writing his own elvish language. This is where escapism comes to mind to me. Tolkien spent years writing about the episodes of middle-earth. How many of the years of his life did he spend in a world created by his own mind?

Stephen Donaldson on the other hand, has created several series which have become best sellers, the most notable of which is, ‘The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant’. Now as I’m sat here patiently waiting the 100 days left until the penultimate book in the Thomas Covenant series, I appreciate how authors such as these two truly capture the minds of the reader.

Donaldson’s use of description and character building, in my opinion, actually outstrips Tolkien. He is a true master of capturing the reader’s imagination, to the point where when reading his novels, you almost feel as if you’re there.

Of course escapism has many other forms, such as internet forums, alcohol and drug use to name a few. I was simply illustrating two masters at elevating us from the real world.

Life has many, many stresses: getting a new job, children, education, personal loss, inner battles, addiction, poverty. The list is endless. Many forms of escapism are seen as life necessities for many to live their lives. In fact, I doubt there are many people alive who don’t need to escape their day-to-day life in some way – myself included.

But the path of reading fantasy fascinates me. As children we learn tall tales of orcs, goblins, unicorns, centaurs, wizards, and so on. I used to love them. The idea of going on an adventure, retrieving treasure and slaying the evil wizard. What a great way to spend a few days of your life, imagining things that’ll never be.

As a second thought though, isn’t the greatest fantasy story that we could ever read, actually our own life story?

Maybe it be the mind-boggling statistic of actually being conceived. 1 in around 400 million if we’re talking about competing sperm. Take into account the problems of conceiving and troubled pregnancies, the actual statistic of your personal creation is as near a statistical impossibility as you’ll ever find (unless of course, you’re counting a cow actually jumping over the moon).

It could be the surreal notion of a piece of metal flying through the air carrying 100 passengers, or how that tin of beans managed to get to your plate. Each would be a fantasy story in itself a few centuries ago.

So maybe instead of escaping into a fantasy world or having a beer to escape that nagging wife, you could just take a couple of moments to appreciate the truly amazing feat of simply being here.

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7 responses to this post.

  1. Great points and a good read. I usually only read the whole of blogs as a favour but this got me interested until the climax. Fantasy fiction is definitely the way to go.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Sarah Baram on July 2, 2010 at 15:28

    I used to be really in Fantasy Fiction when I was younger. Ray Bradbury, a bit of John Tolkein and Stephen King… Which you may or may not consider Fantasy Fiction depending on which book you are reading. And, of course, Harry Potter every so often. I found I lost interest after a few years. Sitting on my back patio, or taking a hiking outing, or even to a museum seemed to be enough of an escape. You’re right, it’s what real that is true and fulfilling fantasy not ogres, goblings and orcs.

    Reply

  3. I used to avoid fantasy fiction like the plague while my husband and children were enthralled. I preferred spy, detective, political novels. However, since watching Tolkien’s books in movie form, I understand now how they felt. I still don’t think I want to read them though. The nearest I have got to enjoying fantasy is James Herbert.

    Reply

  4. This was really interesting and made me think, thank you for writing this.

    Reply

  5. Posted by boatacrosstheriver on July 13, 2010 at 02:10

    Nice reflections. As a teacher in an “alternative” high school. I have seen a lot of forms of escapism mainly in the forms of drugs and alcohol and the topic is very interesting to me.

    Reply

    • Well, when I thought about it, it actually seemed quite silly that considering how incredible life is as a whole, we spend such a large amount of our time trying to escape it. But then I suppose you could say it was part of life anyhow. Interesting thought though.

      Reply

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