Realistic Fantasy and Sub-creation: a Narratological Approach to Evaluating Storyworld Construction by Using J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth
This essay examines J.R.R. Tolkien's concept of "sub-creation' meaning both myth creation and the power to create artificial storyworlds, and how it predates contemporary narratology. The two approaches to narrative share similar thought processes. This essay examines how Tolkien's theory of fantasy was built on the same foundation as narratology and even helped create certain narrative dynamics before contemporary narratology defined the terms. Using elements of narrative dynamics and Tolkien's insights on art and imagination, as well as the creation of artificial worlds, I develop a set of criteria for story-world narrative to showcase Tolkien's techniques: 1) Space and temporality within the storyworld can be mapped. 2) The storyworld's construction has a witness (nested frames and an implied author). 3) The textual and textual reference world of the implied storyworld draws references from, or allows readers to interact with, the actual world.