Unicorns Are Not Real and Neither Are You

Peter S. Beagle's Postmodern Fairy Tale

“Although considered by many readers to be a “cult classic,” Peter S. Beagle’s 1968 novel The Last Unicorn has been unrepresented in literary scholarship. Many fantasy critics in the past have dismissed the work as lacking a sense of reality through its mixing of modern language with a medieval, fantasy setting. These critics, however, fail to understand the novel’s purposeful muddling of reality as a question of ontology and the nature of storytelling/world-projection. The objective of this study is to not only to act as a sort of apologetic for The Last Unicorn, but to therefore read the novel in the context of fairy tale/mythic studies and postmodern theory—specifically through the critical lenses of Bruno Bettelheim, J.R.R. Tolkien, John Barth, and Brian McHale. Through simultaneously deconstructing and following fairy tale conventions/tropes, The Last Unicorn offers its reader a postmodern story that explores the reality of fiction.”

In her graduate thesis for the degree of Master of Arts, Athena Hayes presents a fresh look at a timeless classic. Read it now!

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