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GAROVORKIN

What are your Choices for the Most Literate Works of Fantasy

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This can include series,  single book, Novella and short stories.

ILL start with   Gormenghast  Trilogy 

1. Titus Groan

2. Gormenghast 

3 Titus Alone 

Vast and  and  richly imagined.  There is nothing quite like this trilogy of books.  It's a slow-paced read but It is so worth it. :cool4:

Edited by GAROVORKIN

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Gormenghast is an accidental trilogy. Peake intended a series of seven books, but came down with Parkinson's - which is why the third book (written during the illness) has so little relation to the first two (and is nowhere near as good). There is even a fourth book, Titus Awakes, which was written by his widow, and based off a single page Peake left behind.

Anyway, to answer the original question - Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun would qualify.

 

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5 hours ago, Roose Boltons Pet Leech said:

Anyway, to answer the original question - Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun would qualify.

+1

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"Book of the New Sun" is a candidate but on the "gimicky" side. Confusing, or rather puzzling, rich of allusions, comical, bizarre. If with "literate" we mean a huge vocab and erudite allusions of all imaginable kinds, it is a very strong candidate. But I'd probably say it is overdone, all things considered.

An even clearer case of overdone language is Eric Rücker Eddison. In his best known piece, The worm Ouroboros, the clusters of obsolete adjectives border already on the comical (as do some of the names) but in the first Zimiamvia book I tried, the language is somewhat plainer but we get extensive quotations in French and Latin... (I got stuck pretty soon, not mainly because of the quotations). (Interestingly, they were translated into German, apparently the translation of the Worm is true to the vocab of the original (I read only the original); of the Zimiamvian books I tried the first one in translation (because it was easier to get my hands on).

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What I meant is that only because Wolfe put a lot of fancy stuff in there, it is not necessarily greater than less obviously ambitious books from the genre. I don't deny that it is quite impressive and recommendable. But I also find most of it too strange and mannered to be really atmospheric and immersive. I also think that despite the baroque language Ouroboros is quite unique and not only historically interesting.

But one test for me would be: Which books would you recommend to someone who usually tends to sneer at the fantasy genre or at "genre literature" in general to convince them that they are wrong? I don't really have an obvious recommendation with such a criterion (it is of course not the only plausible one) in mind.

Edited by Jo498

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1 hour ago, Jo498 said:

What I meant is that only because Wolfe put a lot of fancy stuff in there, it is not necessarily greater than less obviously ambitious books from the genre. I don't deny that it is quite impressive and recommendable. But I also find most of it too strange and mannered to be really atmospheric and immersive. I also think that despite the baroque language Ouroboros is quite unique and not only historically interesting.

But one test for me would be: Which books would you recommend to someone who usually tends to sneer at the fantasy genre or at "genre literature" in general to convince them that they are wrong? I don't really have an obvious recommendation with such a criterion (it is of course not the only plausible one) in mind.

I would recommend Go Fuck Yourself by Pretentious Book Snob, but that's just me :P 

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The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe is clearly the #1 cheerleader. The Times even called it "SF's Ulysses" which is a bit strong, but I kind of get what they mean.

M. John Harrison's Viriconium books and short stories probably quality, although they definitely fall more towards the "pretentious bullshit" end of the literary spectrum.

Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast books of course. I hesitate over Tolkien they have literary value but I don't think Tolkien intended them to be "literature" in that sense.

China Mieville I think qualifies quite strongly, and is a good case of an author serving both genre and literary tropes at the same time and quite well. Le Guin? Her SF would quality but I haven't read much of her fantasy. Brian Aldiss's Helliconia trilogy I think strongly works as a literary work of SF-rationalised fantasy. Christopher Priest's Dream Archipelago stories and novels as well.

I there's a lot of authors who have literary elements or merit - Erikson, Stover, Martin, Bakker, Kay etc - but they also like writing stories which are accessible and work on a surface level as well as a deeper one.

If we're counting graphic novels, then Neil Gaiman's Sandman I think stands and works as a piece of serious literature which I don't think his traditional novels do.

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2 hours ago, Werthead said:

M. John Harrison's Viriconium books and short stories probably quality, although they definitely fall more towards the "pretentious bullshit" end of the literary spectrum.


Eh. Harrison may well fall towards the pretentious bullshit side with his opinions and shit but I reckon the stories themselves are awesome.



I wanna say Hal Duncan's Book of All Hours but I'm not sure if I should...

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Gabriel García Márquez, Cien años de soledad

Jorge Luis Borges, Ficciónes

Julio Cortázar, Rayuela

Angélica Gorodischer, Kalpa Imperial

David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

Zoran Živković, The Five Wonders of the Danube

 

And several others already listed.  Doubtless forgetting a few dozen.

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2 hours ago, polishgenius said:

Eh. Harrison may well fall towards the pretentious bullshit side with his opinions and shit but I reckon the stories themselves are awesome.

I liked the Viriconium novels, but thought that some of the short stories that were in the omnibus edition were verging on incomprehensibility since I wasn't really sure what he was trying to say. Harrison's The Course of the Heart would be another contender.

1 hour ago, Larry. said:

David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

There's also Mitchell's Marinus books which have more fantasy elements than Cloud Atlas, I thought The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet was particularly good.

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William Gibson's work is interestingly close to high literature, within touching distance of middlebrow modern thrillers, and still science fiction.

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Clark Ashton Smith  wrote some of the finest fantasy stories of all time, In terms of his prose style he is unique.  

He penned many great atales The City of the Singing Flame and  its sequel  Beyond the Singing Flame  two of my of favorites.  Ive read many of his  stories and have  never been disappointed by any of them.  He was a great too.  Smith only wrote only  one novel  The Back Diamonds  which is  straight up old time adventure novel. He was  teenager when he wrote it. 

 

Edited by GAROVORKIN

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