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The Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series of the 1960's & 1970's

My love for high fantasy and modern fantasy was fed by Ballantine Books in the 1960's and 1970's.

I was a teenager in the hayday of Ballantines Adult Fantasy Series. Such a blessing and I still have many of them on my bookshelves even today!

This video and the following review gives an excellent overview of those books and the times in which they were published.


The Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series
The Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series

The Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series Gave the Fantasy Genre an Identity in the 1960s & 70s

Video from the library ladder


The Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series

"Paperback publisher Ballantine Books played a pivotal role in the development and popularization of the fantasy genre. Its Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series of 83 old and new fantasy titles published between 1965 and 1974 introduced many mainstream readers to the genre and set the stage for the genre's rapid growth over the past 50 years. This video is an overview of the paperback book series and its impact. In future videos, I'll explore in more depth individual authors and books included in the series. Note also that I've defined the book series broadly to include titles that are closely associated with the series even though, officially, they weren't part of it."

0:01 Fantasy's mid-century stigma 2:10 Ballantine's opportunity 5:24 Overview of the books 6:14 Tolkien books 7:53 Authors who influenced Tolkien 9:15 Tolkien's contemporaries 10:38 Early fantasy precursors 12:15 Exotic cultures & adventures 16:11 Weird & uncanny fiction 17:48 New authors and works 19:20 Anthologies 21:05 What happened to BAFS? 22:15 Aftermath 24:24 Ballantine's impact 26:04 Collectability" from video introduction


Ballantine Books Today

"The Ballantine Books Group, part of the Random House family, publishes a wide range of fiction and nonfiction that entertains, informs, and inspires. Our goal is to seek out and cultivate the most compelling, varied, and distinctive storytellers—and to bring their work to the broadest possible audience of readers. Our list is comprised of several imprints, including Ballantine, Bantam, Dell, and Delacorte.

Ballantine was founded in 1952 by legendary publishers Ian and Betty Ballantine. From the beginning, we have sought out authors whose work is defined by the intersection of quality and wide appeal. Our list features many bestselling authors, including perennials such as Jodi Picoult, Taylor Jenkins Reid, Isabel Allende, Andy Weir, Ernest Cline, Emily Giffin, Jonathan Kellerman, Terry McMillan, Paula McLain, Debbie Macomber, Martha Hall Kelly, Josie Silver, and Lisa Wingate, as well as newly established talents: Linda Holmes, Frances Cha, Christy Lefteri, and forthcoming titles from Cleyvis Natera, Charmaine Wilkerson, Annie Hartnett, Nita Prose and Jennifer E. Smith, among others. Our nonfiction list includes bestselling authors such as Lauren Graham, R. Eric Thomas, Emily Nagoski, Elizabeth Letts, Lisa Damour, André Leon Talley, Carol Dweck, Alison Weir, Glory Edim, and forthcoming titles from Yamiche Alcindor, Rachel Cargle, Laura McKowen, Eduardo Briceño, and Dr. Joy Bradford." from the website randomhousebooks.com


Recommended reading:

A Book Review: Jamie Williamson – The Evolution of Modern Fantasy: From Antiquarianism to the Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series


The Evolution of Modern Fantasy: From Antiquarianism to the Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series
The Evolution of Modern Fantasy: From Antiquarianism to the Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series

Williamson, Jamie: The Evolution of Modern Fantasy: From Antiquarianism to the Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015. ISBN 978-1137518088.

In archaeology, archaeologists like to distinguish between “lumpers” and “splitters” – that is, those who perceive great similarities between pieces of evidence in the historical record versus those who see vast differences. In an admirable new work on the literary history of fantasy, Jamie Williamson might be the “splitter” in a field full of lumpers, breaking up the relatively cohesive narrative often told about fantasy’s literary history. The centerpiece of Williamson’s story is Lin Carter and the Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series (BAFS), which ran from 1969 to 1974 in the wake of the Tolkien and sword & sorcery booms of the 1960s. The BAFS, basically, had created a respectable literary prehistory for the new publishing genre of fantasy fiction. Although Williamson does not say so specifically, Lin Carter did for the fantasy canon what Robert Maynard Hutchins and Mortimer Adler did for the “Great Books,” codifying a list of canonical “great” works that, perhaps inadvertently, tended to homogenize those works under one unified rubric. Carter and the BAFS posited “a sort of timeless Platonic Form, involving magic and invented preindustrial worlds” (ix) that has shaped our views on fantasy ever since, even causing misreadings of great past fantasy works because “of the tendency to view pregenre fantasy through a postgenre lens” (176). Williamson’s project, then, is a sort of historical recovery: he wishes to examine the pregenre fantasy writers canonized by Carter in order to recover their original literary and aesthetic intentions.

Pregenre fantasy writers, largely, had no interest in the “BAFS template”: a wholly invented secondary world with an abiding interest in magic. Indeed, Williamson usefully distinguishes between the “literary” branch of pre-BAFS fantasists (including Tolkien, Dunsany, William Morris, E. R. Eddison, Hope Mirrlees) and the “popular” branch of pre-BAFS fantasists – Howard, Leiber, Jack Vance, Clark Ashton Smith, plus others. Unlike the literary writers, the popular writers almost never attempted to engage older forms of literature or aesthetics. They chose instead to write modern adventure stories with surface archaic elements. The literary writers, however, deliberately engaged older literary forms, spurred by antiquarian interest as well as inspired by scholarly new editions and translations of obscure and forgotten literature. Thus, as Williamson says, whereas “the popular writers largely adapted traditional elements of content to the conventions of modern narrative forms, the literary writers would be more aptly described as writing modern works actively engaging the conventions of traditional ‘faery, or romance literature’” (36). Such antiquarianism, however, is peculiar to European writers, Williamson argues – it requires being cut-off from a tradition of thought and writing. The fantasy aesthetic developed by the antiquarians largely does not apply to non-European literature. Thus, in Williamson’s view, a writer such as Leslie Marmon Silko should not be considered a fantasist, since the “impossible” elements in Ceremony stem from Silko’s inheritance of a living Native American tradition.." from the article: A Book Review: Jamie WilliamsonThe Evolution of Modern Fantasy: From Antiquarianism to the Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series



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