This Week’s Features: The World of Fantasy

© Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Amélie, 2001

As Giambattista Vico argues, we are the only creatures who can interpret history because human beings are historical creatures that “make history”. Therefore, because literary works are ‘humanistic texts’, to understand literary works, we must be able to immerse in the authors’ minds. The fantasy worlds of writers and filmmakers represent the epistemological dimensions of their life experience. With imaginative representations, the realms of reality and imagination merge into one, which is “the new hallmark of philological hermeneutics” as Erich Auerbach wrote.


Amélie (2001)

by Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s French romantic comedy film Amélie is a lighthearted fiesta of daily pleasures. It narrates the life of a waitress, Amélie Poulain, who spent her childhood isolated from the outer world, and her journey to bring her little fantasy world to people around her by helping them discover love. With a play between a nostalgic shade and surreal images, Jeunet recreates a fictional Paris by exploring the genres of the heritage film and the cinéma du look.

Extensive Reading: Expressionist Aesthetics in Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Amélie: A Fictional Recreation of Paris out of the Pastiche and the Cinéma du look


Yvain, the Knight of the Lion (1180)

by Chrétien de Troyes

© MS Garrett

Yvain, the Knight of the Lion is a classic representative of the genre of Arthurian romance. Set in King Arthur’s Court, the vivid and imaginative imageries and visions in de Troyes’ work compose a legendary and fairytale-like fictional sphere. With courtly culture embodied in the ground of legend, the story appears to entirely out of the political sphere. However, as Erich Auerbach wrote in Mimesis, the knightly fictional world is absolute which “raises above all earthly contingencies, and it gives those who submit to its dictates the feeling that they belong to a community of the elect…set apart from the common herd.” In this sense, the knightly adventure can be interpreted as a criticism of feudalism as the unrealistic chivalric-courtly society is compared to the solidarity of a functionless class.

Buy it


The Labyrinth of the Spirits (2016)

© Weidenfeld & Nicolson

The Labyrinth of the Spirits is the 4th and last installment of the series The Cemetery of Forgotten Books. In this episode, a genius investigator, Alicia found herself on a mission to find Mauricio Valls, the cultural minister of the Franco administration who mysteriously vanished. Set in and post Spanish Civil War times, Alicia emerges as an embodiment of the nation itself as the story develops. No matter what she does, her wound is a constant reminder of her past, a war scar that never fades.

Buy it

Extensive Reading: Post-War Spain According to Carlos Ruiz Zafón: The Scars of War on the City and Its People

Categories: Weekly Features

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