Determinism versus the Fantastic: Toward a Hermeneutics of Enchantment

The nineteenth-century French fantastic can be read as a reaction against a form of determinism exemplified by the work of Pierre-Simon Laplace (1749–1827). The fantastic posits a way of perceiving the world based on an understanding of objects not bound by the rules that science and probability impose on them. It gives voice to a counter-Enlightenment conception of the world, one that allows for unpredictability, faith, emotion, the irrational, and enchantment. In short, the fantastic creates a place for the human in an increasingly deterministic, utilitarian world.