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mythopoeic


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A form of literature that has the structure, look and feel of a myth, but is in fact a contemporary creation rather than a story passed down by tradition. The word was created by one of the genre's great practitioners, J. R. R. Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings (1954–5). Although the bulk of mythopoeic texts tend to be works like Tolkien's, namely fantasy, this is not exclusively the case. As Richard Slotkin demonstrates in a powerful work, Regeneration through Violence (1974), works of so-called serious literature to do with the history of a nation can also be classified as mythopoeic. For example, the cycle of Rambo films taken together offer a potent counter-narrative to standard accounts of American history—in Rambo's universe the Vietnam War was won by its soldiers, but lost by the politicians.

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies.


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