secondary world

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Coined by J. R. R. Tolkien in his 1947 essay "On Fairy-Stories".


secondary world (plural secondary worlds)

  1. (fantasy) An internally consistent, fictional, fantasy world or setting that is different from the real "primary world".
    • 1947, Tolkien, J.R.R., “On Fairy-Stories”, in Essays Presented to Charles Williams, page 60:
      What really happens is that the story-maker proves a successful 'sub-creator'. He makes a Secondary World which your mind can enter. Inside it, what he relates is 'true': it accords with the laws of that world. You therefore believe it, while you are, as it were, inside. The moment disbelief arises, the spell is broken; the magic, or rather art, has failed. You are then out in the Primary World again, looking at the little abortive Secondary World from outside.
    • 1982, Burelbach, Frederick M., “An Introduction to Naming in the Literature of Fantasy”, in Literary Onomastics Studies[1], volume 9, number 11, page 133:
      From beginning to end of the fiction we are in the secondary world.
    • 2004, Blackford, Holly Virginia, “It's Like a Fantasy World”, in Out of this World: Why Literature Matters to Girls, Teachers College Press, →ISBN, page 48:
      The girls stress the internal logic of the Secondary World as the crucial point for fantasy pleasure. Mastering the elaborate structure of the Secondary World is part and parcel of the reader's quest to experience a text such as Harry Potter, although the central hero would identify the text as masculine.
    • 2012, Carroll, Jane Suzanne, “The Sanctuary Topos”, in Landscape in Children's Literature, Routledge, →ISBN, page 26:
      The world to which the protagonist belongs is the 'primary' or 'domestic' world. The secondary world is often a binary opposite of the primary world; an inverse, or mirror-image of the consensual reality of the text.



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