Tuesday, November 9, 2010

New Journal: Fastitocalon: Studies in Fantasticism Ancient to Modern

The journal Fastitocalon: Studies in Fantasticism Ancient and Modern launched recently. Here are the relevant details. The first volume is devoted to "Immortals and the Undead." A call for papers has also been posted for the second volume and will be posted separately to the blog.

Fastitocalon - Studies in Fantasticism Ancient to Modern


The original idea for starting a new journal goes back some two years when the two editors-in-chief were working together on a volume on dragons in literature. They deplored the lack of a journal that aims at promoting a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of fantasticism across the ages. In order to remedy this situation, they decided to try and establish a series whose individual issues focus either on important authors and/or works in this field (e.g. Hoffmann, Poe, Tolkien, Maupassant, Dunsany) or on specific topics relevant to fantasticism (e.g. the supernatural, the transcendental, the monstrous). The WVT (Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier / 'Scholarly Publications Trier') graciously agreed to give the new journal a home and work began in close exchange with an international Board of Advisors whose members act as peer-reviewers for abstracts and papers.

Volume I (2010): Immortals and the Undead

Issue 1

(Fanfan Chen and Thomas Honegger)
Introduction to Volume I
The first volume of Fastitocalon (consisting of two issues) is dedicated to the exploration of the literary, poetical, cultural and historical aspects of the immortals and the undead. Albeit the two categories have, at first sight, only very little to do with each other, they can be interpreted as representing two approaches towards the larger question of death, mortality, and longevity.
Immortality has fascinated human beings probably ever since the awareness of their own mortality has dawned on them. Thus, the earliest extant epic Gilgamesh deals with the quest for immortality. Yet the category of immortals may not only include 'positive' examples such as the Taoist masters as they appear in Wu Yuantai’s novel The Eight Immortals Depart and Travel to the East (Ming Dynasty), or the successful alchemists, for example Flamel in J.K. Rowling’s The Philosopher's Stone, whose immortality is part of a greater (spiritual) achievement. It may also comprise conflicted beings such as Karl Edward Wagner's Kane or even Tolkien's elves, for whom longevity may become a curse, too. Next to Tolkien's elves, the 'classical' longaevi (nymphs, silvans, nerei etc.) may also be of interest. At the other end of the spectrum, we find figures such as the 'eternal Jew', best known as the protagonist of Maturin’s Melmoth the Wanderer (1820), and his analogues. They may not be 'immortals' in the strict sense of the word, but often participate in the 'immortality discourse' and provide a valuable complementary view.
The undead comprise the literarily prominent examples of the revenants and vampires. Ever since the publication of John Polidori's The Vampyre (1819) and Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897), the charismatic and erotically alluring vampire has become a popular character of modern fantastic fiction, of which the best-selling 'Twilight-saga' by Stephenie Meyer is a most recent example. Originally at home in 'gothic' horror novels and movies, the undead have crossed over into various other genres (fantasy, science fiction, crime, historic fiction and films etc.) and developed into a versatile element of the fantastic. Their 'human origin' (at least in the western culture) makes them simultaneously familiar and exotic, human and monstrous with a great literary potential into which writers of the fantastic have been dipping more and more deeply.
The contributions to this first issue explore some of these issues in greater depth. Dirk Vanderbeke's informed piece on vampires in literature across the centuries makes a brave beginning and outlines the transmutations of the folkloristic vampire and its aristocratic 'literary' counterpart. The paper by Eugenio Olivares Merino, then, looks into the question of early English vampires and establishes the origins of a 'British' tradition in twelfth-century accounts of 'revenants'. Leaving vampires and revenants, we progress to Siobhán Ní Chonaill discussion of William Godwin’s novel St Leon (1799). She sets this work in relation to the perfectibilist ideas in Godwin's political philosophy and demonstrates a readjustment in his thinking about immortality. Françoise Dupeyron-Lafay, in her contribution, analyses Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu's novel Uncle Silas (1864) as a revenant or a ghost resurrected from the 18th century Gothic past. She furthermore addresses the question of immortality and how plot and characterization are determined by it, and informed by Swedenborg's perspective whereby the intermediate world of spirits (itself half way between heaven and hell) exists parallel to the world of the living. Finally, Amy Amendt-Raduege's paper on Tolkien's ringwraiths draws on both folklore and Tolkien's own well-documented thoughts about the necessity of death and discusses the implications for those individuals who refuse to acknowledge the necessity of death – and the terrible recognition that, for all its awful finality, not dying destroys our humanity altogether.
Douglas Anderson's notes on forgotten authors of fantastic literature conclude the first issue. They have been selected with a view on their compatibility with the overall theme and offer – next to impulses for further exploration of the topic – the fruits of original research.
We wish our readers a stimulating and 'fantastic' time with the first issue of Fastitocalon.
Thomas Honegger & Fanfan Chen


Dirk Vanderbeke (Jena, Germany)
The Vampire Strikes Back: On the History of a Nightwalker

Eugenio Olivares Merino (Jaén, Spain)
The (Medi)Evil Dead: Revenants and Vampires in Twelfth Century English Literature 1

Siobhán Ní Chonaill (Cambridge, UK)
'What is political liberty compared with unbounded riches and immortal vigour?': The Politics of Immortality in William Godwin's St Leon

Françoise Dupeyron-Lafay (Paris, France)
Victorian Gothic Fiction as a Ghost: Immortality and the Undead in Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu's Uncle Silas (1864)

Amy Amendt-Raduege (Bellingham, USA)
Better Off Dead: The Lesson of the Ringwraiths


Douglas Anderson (Marcellus, USA)
Biographical notes on forgotten authors of fantastic literature

Issue 2 (forthcoming autumn 2010)

(Fanfan Chen and Thomas Honegger)


Roger Bozzetto and Fanfan Chen (Aix, France/ Hualien, Taiwan)
The Evolution of the Quest for Immortality in the Fantastic and Science Fiction: Spirituality, Corporeality, Virtuality

Valentina Fenga (Bologna, Italy)
New Immortals: Technology and Immortality

Anna Caiozzo (Paris, France)
Some Notes on the Depiction of Immortals in Illustrations to Medieval Oriental Manuscripts

Eugenio Olivares Merino (Jaén, Spain)
Reporting the Stubborn Undead: Revenants and Vampires in Twelfth Century English Literature 2

Thomas Scholz (Leipzig, Germany)
'A zombie is just a barely living firend you haven’t met yet.': Bisociation and the Undead in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld Series

Bruce Wyse (Waterloo, Ontario Canada)
Consuming Life: Liminality, Addiction and the Posthuman Condition in Bulwer-Lytton's A Strange Story and the Victorian Elixir-of-Life Narrative


Douglas Anderson (Marcellus, USA)
Biographical notes on forgotten authors of fantastic literature

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