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Experiment in Criticism Chapter 6 Summary

In: English and Literature

Submitted By micaelapedrazas
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We can describe fantasy in two different ways. One one hand, as a literary term, it is defined as any narrative that manages with impossible and preternaturals; such as, Gulliver, the ancient mariner, the crock of gold etc. Although they are very similar in spirit and purpose but actually the only subject in common they have is that they are all fantastic. This is why CS Lewis calls this fantasy, literary fantasy.
On the other hand, as a psychological term, it can have three meanings. Firstly, an imaginative building which may please patients and is mistaken for reality; for example, a woman in this condition will imagine a famous person is in love with her and a man might imagine that he is the long-lost son of nobles who is wealthy and overwhelmed with luxuries.
Secondly, a satisfying imaginative construction entertained constantly by the patient but without the delusion that it is a reality. Also known as the waking dream, of military or erotic triumphs, of power or grandeur and even of popularity; dreamers hold onto this type of psychological fantasy for pure consolation and only satisfaction. Nevertheless, these dreamers no longer aims to achieve their dream in real life but rather live it as achieved in their mind. A man dreaming of wealth will not save a penny and a man dreaming of handsomeness will not do anything to make himself agreeable to any woman he meets. The author calls this activity Morbid Castle-building.
Thirdly, the same type of activity indulged in moderately and briefly as leisure time, duly subordinated to more effective and outgoing activities. This is a fantasy which is common in men; we are usually doing what we dreamed to do. For example, a man who wrote a book, had pictured himself doing so in the past. CS Lewis describes this fantasy as the Normal-castle-building. Nevertheless, normal-castle-building can be of two types: the egoistic and the disinterested. In the first kind, the day-dreamer is constantly the hero and everything is seen through his eves solely. For example, it is only the day dreamer that captivates the beautiful woman, owns a yacht, or is acclaimed as the greatest writer. However, in the other kind, the day-dreamer is not the hero and is sometimes not necessarily in the dream at all. Consequently, a man who has no opportunity of moving to Switzerland in reality may entertain himself with reveries about an alpine holiday. His presence will be seen in the fiction, but not as a hero; rather as the public where his attention will be focused on the mountains. In times where the dreamer is not present, he entertains himself with invented landscapes and surroundings. Once a stage is reached where the dreamer remains outside but has designed his or her own world, more than mere reverie has come into action: construction, invention, in a word, fiction, is proceeding.
If the dreamer has talent, he can trespass a transition from desinterested castle-building to literary invention and even from egoistic to desinterested and consequently to literary invention. Lewis affirms that the reading of the unliterary is usually driven by the egoistic castle-building which projects them as a hero or wealthy man while they read. However, lower class men abhor literary fantasies because it is tedious to read about things that will never really happen. Also, the author highlight that people reading fantasies are aware that they are not theb characters they envy in the novels but keep reading these because they want to be it, they wonder if something like the novel will ever happen to them. Therefore, the more a man is into egoistic castle-building the more he will demand for a superficial reralism and the less he will like the fantastic. To conclude, CS Lewis provides us with an example to differentiate egoistic and desinteredted castle-building. The egoistic will dream with a fancy breakfast with bacon and eggs while the other will dream with honey and fairy bread.

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