Conservatism and High Fantasy

Compromise and Conceit

In the interview linked to below, China Mieville claims that high fantasy is conservative, and that due to its prominence the fantasy genre in general is judged as conservative by critics. This seems pretty uncontroversial to me, but over at Monsters and Manuals this claim was disputed as a shallow interpretation of Tolkien and of high fantasy generally. It’s not just the 3 people I’ve been arguing with over there, either (hi guys!). Many people try to rescue Tolkien (or their other favourite high fantasy writers) from this claim, because they think that somehow being conservative means they shouldn’t be reading it  (or that people think they shouldn’t be). But it doesn’t work. Tolkien’s books are fun but they are politically pretty obnoxious, and the same goes for high fantasy generally. I’m going to expand on Mieville’s throwaway points in that interview, and add in a few of my own…

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