Fairy Tales of London: British Urban Fantasy, 1840 to the Present by Hadas Elber-Aviram (Bloomsbury, February 2021)
Hadas Elber-Aviram’s monograph, Fairy Tales of London: British Urban Fantasy, 1840 to the Present, argues for a coherent tradition of London-based urban fantasies spanning from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day. The book charts the development of fantastical London literature across the fictions of Charles Dickens, H. G. Wells, George Orwell, Mervyn Peake, and China Miéville, examining their fascination with the materiality of the city, their belief in the fantasy genre as an idiom that can affect social change, and their conviction that for good or ill, the future of humanity lies in the metropolis. This monograph contextualises its readings of a wide array of London-based fantasies within the aesthetic, ideological, and political debates around the role of fantasy literature in British society. It transcribes and analyses hitherto unpublished manuscript material from the Mervyn Peake archive at the British Library and the H. G. Wells papers at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Within these contexts and drawing on this new material, this book reads the growth and development of British urban fantasy as a complex, multifaceted dialogue with a rival pastoral tradition typified by John Ruskin, George MacDonald, J. R. R. Tolkien, and C. S. Lewis.