the real world, as opposed to the secondary world of a work of fiction
It seems fairly clear that Lang was using belief in its ordinary sense: belief that a thing exists or can happen in the real (primary) world.
I propose, therefore, to arrogate to myself the powers of Humpty-Dumpty, and to use Fantasy for this purpose: in a sense, that is, which combines with its older and higher use as an equivalent of Imagination the derived notions of 'unreality' (that is, of unlikeness to the Primary World), of freedom from the domination of observed 'fact', in short of the fantastic.
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.
Fantasy, of course, starts out with an advantage: arresting strangeness. But that advantage has been turned against it, and has contributed to its disrepute. Many people dislike being `arrested'. They dislike any meddling with the Primary World, or such small glimpses of it as are familiar to them.
Fantasy may be, as I think, not less but more sub-creative; but at any rate it is found in practice that `the inner consistency of reality' is more difficult to produce, the more unlike are the images and the rearrangements of primary material to the actual arrangements of the Primary World.
The fantastic assumption of sustained and consistent impossibility cannot long remain in a primary world whose physical laws and accompanying mentality must dismiss nonconforming phenomena as being either rationally explicable or incomprehensible.
The writer, as an omnipotent secondary creator, need only state that the world within the text mirrors the primary world to establish the fact to his own satisfaction.
J.R.R. Tolkien, 'On Fairy-Stories'
We would like cites of any date from authors other than Tolkien.
Last modified 2021-01-05 19:38:06
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.