Todorov, Tzvetan

Tagged: Author | Critic

(1939-2017) Bulgarian literary critic, in France from 1963; he pursued his postgraduate studies in Paris under the direction of the semiotic philosopher Roland Barthes (1915-1980). Among Todorov's several books and essays on structuralist criticism, all written in French, Introduction à la littérature fantastique (1970; trans Richard Howard as The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to Literary Genre 1973; US paperback 1975 with intro by Robert Scholes) has relevance to the student of sf, along with Scholes's own Structural Fabulation (1975). (Structuralism has been important in sf criticism, influencing critics as otherwise diverse as Samuel R Delany, Mark Rose and Darko Suvin.) An interesting controversy about Todorov's book arose in Science Fiction Studies, with the Fall 1974 and July 1975 issues containing an attack on Todorov's work by Stanisław Lem and further debate. Also relevant is "Historical Genres/Theoretical Genres: A Discussion of Todorov on the Fantastic" by Christine Brooke-Rose (Autumn 1976 New Literary History). Todorov's definition of "the fantastic" is much more exclusive than most (see Definitions of SF; Fantasy); he devotes only a half-page to sf. [PN]

see also: Critical and Historical Works About SF.

Tzvetan Todorov

born Sofia, Bulgaria: 1 March 1939

died Paris: 7 February 2017

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