A Modernist Fantasy: Modernism, Anarchism, & the Radical
—winner of the 2020 Mythopoeic Award for Scholarship
Is it possible for the elite criticism of the new modernist studies to engage with
devotees of popular culture and fantasy fiction? Can the faeries and dragons of the
bestseller lists talk shop with the coteries and little magazines of high modernism?
What if their conversation was about anarchism? What surprising fellowship would that
trilogy make? Such a dialogue would question root assumptions in all three areas and
unearth a legacy of politically radical and formally experimental modernist fantasy
fiction, a red thread running from the 1890s to the 1970s.
The recuperation of that lost tradition is as important as revising the critical
traditions that excluded it from the start. The exclusion of fantasy fiction written by
modernists like Hope Mirrlees and John Cowper Powys challenges how we understand
modernism itself. The endless definitions of genre and rhetorics in fantasy and science
fiction are also transformed here by modernist studies, as a catalyst. In both stances,
anarchist critical and artistic praxis conjures a pathway to flexible new links between
fields and ideas. Scholars and students of literary modernism, popular culture, critical
& cultural theory, and anarchism will find a provocative challenge in A Modernist
"...a complex and intricate argument rooted in rigorous academic scholarship.... The
real significance of the book is summed up by the title's implication, as graphically
represented in the stunning cover design, that fantasy is modernist..."
—Nick Hubble, Strange
"...a timely and crucial intervention into one of the longest running debates in the
history of scholarship on the several genres of the fantastic.... it will be required
reading for years to come."
—Benjamin J. Robertson, Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts
"This is one of the most illuminating and compelling analyses of Peake that I have ever seen."
—Timothy S. Murphy, Extrapolation
"...Gifford's book generates a shift in perspective which is both timely and necessary."
—Hailey Maxwell, The Modernist Review
"In this stimulating and energetic study of nine writers,.... he has been very successful."
—Béatrice Duchateau, Miranda:
Revue pluridisciplinaire du monde anglophone