The Purpose of Fantasy

The Purpose of Fantasy, by Philip Martin

The Purpose of Fantasy:
A Reader’s Guide to Twelve Selected Books
with Good Values & Spiritual Depth

by Philip Martin

Crispin Books • December 2013
Trade Softcover • 174 pages  • 5.5″ x 8.5″
Literary Criticism / Fantasy Literature /
Spirituality & Values
Softcover • $14.95 • ISBN 978-1-883953-64-5
Kindle eBook • $3.99 • ISBN 978-1-883953-63-8

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Fantasy Literature

Children’s Books, Literary Classics

Spirituality, Values, Faith, Belief

J.R.R. Tolkien / G.K. Chesterton

• Reader’s guide exploring the philosophical & spiritual values of a dozen beloved fantasy books.

• Includes intro essays on fantasy literature in general.

• Good ideas for literary book clubs or individual reading choices.


Good fantasy literature is far more than a bunch of elves, dwarves, or other imaginary creatures running around fighting dragons, ogres, or orcs and having adventures.

The Purpose of Fantasy looks at some of the core spiritual values of a dozen beloved fantasy books. With an introduction about fantasy literature in general, it holds up to the light a key purpose of fantasy: to ask spiritual or philosophical questions and explore creative approaches to matters of faith and belief, good and bad, right and wrong, and other deeply held, intangible values.

With its succinct discussion of twelve great books, from classics like The Little Prince and The Wind in the Willows to more contemporary novels by modern masters of fantasy like Ursula K. Le Guin, Neil Gaiman, Peter S. Beagle, and Natalie Babbitt, this book offers good ideas for literary book clubs or for individual reading and insight.


Philip Martin is an award-winning author and editor of many books for adults and young readers. He is also the author of A Guide to Fantasy Literature and a number of books of advice for authors, including How To Write Your Best Story. He lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.


Part I:
Are Children’s Books Only for Children?
Tolkien’s Three Things and Chesterton’s Two
Is Fantasy Escapist?
Is Fantasy Subversive?
Part II:
A Consideration of Twelve Great Books
Momo, by Michael Ende
Tuck Everlasting, by Natalie Babbitt
The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
The Silver Chair, by C.S. Lewis
Finn Family Moomintroll, by Tove Jansson
The Rope Trick, by Lloyd Alexander
Gifts, by Ursula K. Le Guin
The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle
The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame
Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White
The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman
The 13 Clocks, by James Thurber