The grimdark, the bad and the ugly: subversions, boundaries and marginalisation in G.R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire
George R.R. Martin
Subject Categories::Q323 English Literature by topic
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AbstractIn 2005, Time Magazine’s Lev Grossman labelled author George Raymond Richard Martin ‘the American Tolkien’. Martin, a successful author and screenwriter with many works to commend him, published the first instalment of his fantasy saga A Song of Ice and Fire in 1996 entitled A Game of Thrones, and a television adaptation soon followed, which helped catapult the author and his storyworld to unimaginable heights. Martin’s more ‘realistic’, gritty portrayal of the Middle Ages infuses with traditional fantasy tropes but is less predictable and less sentimental than the standard fantasy fayre, with a penchant for dark, horror aesthetics, inspired by history, myth, folklore, taproot texts, and melodrama. This thesis challenges conventional ideas about standard fantasy fiction by examining the presence of gritty realism in Martin’s neomedieval fantasy novels, A Song of Ice and Fire. The research explores the extent to which the saga disrupts or maintains conventional fantasy patterns and the significance of Martin’s subversive mode of storytelling on the genre, and the subgenre of grimdark. In addition, the thesis interrogates whether the saga can be read as a modern myth as it contains mythopoeic elements that stem from various sources, and asks what impact this may have on the reader. The thesis will be analysed from an interdisciplinary perspective, drawing from a variety of scholars in order to explore chosen areas that highlight subversions, boundary violations, and marginalisations within the text, though the work will be viewed primarily through a Bakhtinian lens. The work reveals that Martin transcends established fantasy conventions and alters the genre in the popular imagination. Furthermore, the thesis argues that A Song of Ice and Fire constructs new stories for resistance and change through its gritty realistic storytelling and creates manifold meaning for the reader. The interrogation of subversive themes in the saga opens up a discussion on the text as a modern myth that holds a mirror up to humanity, presenting a broader view of the individual’s place in the universe, and their experiences in relation to it.
CitationCastellano, V. (2022) 'The Grimdark, the Bad and the Ugly: Subversions, Boundaries and Marginalisation in G.R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire'. PhD thesis. University of Bedfordshire.
PublisherUniversity of Bedfordshire
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted to the University of Bedfordshire, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
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