Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Godwin, Parke

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(1929-2013) US writer. His first work was a detective novel, Darker Places (1971). He began publishing work of genre interest with "Unsigned Original" for Brother Theodore's Chamber of Horrors (anth 1975) ed Brother Theodore and Marvin Kaye, with whom he also wrote some sf novels. After stories like "The Lady of Finnegan's Hearth" (1977), which is about Isolde, PG published his first fantasy sequence, the Firelord series – Firelord (1980) and Beloved Exile (1984), plus an associated volume, The Last Rainbow (1985) – which treats the story of Arthur in a realistic mode, though with an overlay of Celtic Fantasy. This element is strongest in the final volume, in which a figure modelled on Saint Patrick encounters Faerie in Ireland; but the series, like the fine later Robin Hood sequence – Sherwood (1991) and Robin and the King (1993) – takes an essentially historical view of its protagonists, and intrusions of fantasy seem intended mainly to signal a Thinning of the traditional world. That world is also depicted in A Memory of Lions (1976), in which no vestige of fantasy persists. The vision of Arthur and of Robin Hood as figures with mystically binding relationships to the Matter of Britain is, in PG's hands, elegiac.

The Tower of Beowulf (1995) fully integrates the story of the Monster Grendel into the grim life-history of Beowulf, who becomes an alienated Childe figure, literally obsessed by a Dark Tower which (at least in his Dreams) represents his own lonely state. PG's portrayal of Grendel, who is killed halfway through, rather resembles John Gardner's in Grendel (1971), for both are hugely embittered, estranged and doomed. Other novels include A Cold Blue Light (1983) with Marvin Kaye (who produced a solo sequel), and A Truce with Time: (A Love Story with Occasional Ghosts) (1988), a Ghost Story whose Ghosts help two contemporary lovers gain self-knowledge and wary happiness. "The Fire When it Comes" (1981) – reprinted in The Fire When It Comes (coll 1984), containing mostly Supernatural Fiction – won the 1982 World Fantasy Award.

PG is, by choice, not a central figure in the field of fantasy; this is a placement which could change. [JC]

Parke Godwin


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.