C. Bruna Mancini and David Punter, eds., Space(s) of the Fantastic: A 21st Century Manifesto (New York, NY: Routledge, 2021), 165 pp., ISBN 978-0-367-68030-5

Lellida Marinelli
is a collection of essays that could be placed at the disciplinary intersection between studies on the fantastic and the thriving spatial turn, itself an intersection between human geography and literary studies. It fits well within the interdisciplinary discourse and several of the contributions dialogue both with classic studies such as Gaston Bachelard's The Poetics of Space (1957) and with more recent but indeed significant works such as Space and the Postmodern Fantastic in Contemporary
more » ... erature: The Architectural Void (2015) by Patricia García, who is also one of the contributors to this volume. Each chapter presents a different take on using spatiality as an interpretive tool for reading literary texts. As the subtitle of the introduction -"Of Margins, Transgressions, Abnormalities" -suggests, the underlining motifs linking the chapters illustrate how different spaces and non-spaces, alongside the idea that the fantastic itself challenges the idea of reality, represent "threshold[s] between known and unknown" ( 16 ). The aim of the book is to provide readers with an understanding of fantastic literature through the lens of literary geography. As a term, 'literary geography' dates back to the beginning of the 20 th century. As a discipline, however, it moves along a spectrum of possibilities and involves different approaches to text. In the introductory volume of the specialised journal Literary Geographies, scholar Neil Alexander explains how literary geography for some "is about generating maps from quantitative data as a means of correlating genre with geography or charting the lineaments of a narrative trajectory" (Neal Alexander, "On Literary Geography", Literary Geographies, 1.1 [2015], 3-6). Such is the interesting case of the essay "Rambles in the Fantastic: Digital Mapping Mary Shelley's Last Man" (85-95), where David Sandner argues that both Frankenstein and Last Man are "'rambles', travelbooks in which the main characters trek across real-life landscapes" (85). His contribution is complementary to a map he created with the program VisualEyes5 (see http://www.viseyes.org/visualeyes/?1967). The map is a representation of the places Lionel Verny, the main character of Shelley's Last Man, a dystopian novel set between 2073 and 2100, travels to over a span of fifteen years (from 2080 to 2095) and it aims at showing how geography and geopolitics are closely related. For others, instead, space is a category against which to read certain aspects of the definition of identity. An example is provided by David Punter in "Magissatopia: The Place of the Witch" (3-14), an interesting presentation of a typical character and archetype of fantastic literature. David Punter argues that the history of witches is to be read as a history of female abjection and of "communal injustice" (3) on the part of the patriarchal society. But, he continues, there is more: the "question of the witch" (4) is a reminder of the experience all have, of liminal and transient states, which has passed "under the sign of repression" (4). However, as his overview of a variety of texts shows, what Punter defines as magissatopia, the space of the witch, is a space the characters need to conjure up for themselves as an extreme solution to create a space of shelter, or to be identified as a place on the
doi:10.6093/2035-8504/8837 fatcat:urt22cy2qrhw7h7ys2g7vxjwci