J. R. R. Tolkien’s word for: the action or process of creating a fully realized and internally consistent imaginary or secondary world n.
This aspect of ‘mythology’—sub-creation, rather than either representation or symbolic interpretation of the beauties and terrors of the world—is, I think, too little considered.
Art, the operative link between Imagination and the final result, Sub-creation.
It is, I suppose, fundamentally concerned with the problem of the relation of Art (and Sub-creation) and Primary Reality.
I am old enough (alas!) to take a dispassionate and scientific, properly so-called, interest in these matters, and cite myself simply because I am interested in mythological ‘invention’, and the mystery of literary creation (or sub-creation as I have elsewhere called it) and I am the most readily available corpus vile for experiment or observation.
To venture into this world the reader does not give up his experience of the Primary World entirely, for his own imagination participates in the sub-creation utilizing sensual experience and associations to make incarnate the words which create the Other World.
This seems an appropriate moment to acknowledge my debt to…my son Ian for teaching me the difference between procreation and sub-creation.
Thus, in Tolkien’s view, there is a hierarchy of Creation. At the top is God, as Creator; then comes Creation,…finally there is subcreation, whereby man partakes of the image of the Creator through the gift of creativity.
Dimensions open up, speculation is invited, and what Tolkien called ‘sub-creation’ occurs: People begin to tell their own stories about him [sc. Sherlock Holmes].
J.R.R. Tolkien, 'On Fairy-Stories'
Last modified 2021-02-09 04:41:46
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.