Fancy

Entertainment / Literature / Fancy: Before the 19th Century, the word fancy meant roughly the same thing as imagination as opposed to the mental processes of reason, logic, and memory. The Romantic poets, however, made a pivotal distinction between the two terms that proved integral in their theories of creativity. They used fancy to refer to the mental process in which memories or sensory perceptions are jumbled together to create new chimerical ideas. This process was similar but inferior to the higher mental faculty of imagination, which in its highest form, would create completely new ideas and entirely novel images rather than merely reassemble memories and sensory impressions in a different combination. Coleridge, in chapter thirteen of Biographia Literaria (1817), suggests that 'Fancy . . . Has no other counters to play with, but fixities and definites. The Fancy is indeed no other than a mode of Memory emancipated from the order of time and space.' The fancy was limited to taking already-assembled ideas, images, and memories, and then reassembling them without altering or improving the components. Imagination, however, produced truly original work. Imagination was seen as (as Coleridge says) 'essentially vital,' functioning less like the Fancy's mechanical sorting and instead growing in a more organic manner. He claims imagination 'generates and produces forms of its own,' and it is capable of merging opposites together in a new synthesis. He claims: imagination . . . Reveals itself in the balance or reconciliation of opposite or discordant qualities of sameness, with difference, of the general, with the concrete, the idea, with the image [sic]. Hence, imagination assimilates unlike things to create a new unity. This unity would be constituted of living, interdependent parts that could not function in a literary manner independent from the organic form of the whole, an idea that proved quite important to the New Critics of the early twentieth-century.

Other Words for Fancy

Fancy Noun Synonyms: liking, inclination, fondness, taste, penchant, attraction, preference, partiality, predilection, yearning, craving, hankering, wish, desire, longing
Fancy Adjective Synonyms: ornate, decorative, decorated, ornamental, ornamented, elaborate, embellished, embroidered, fanciful, extravagant, rococo, baroque, gingerbread, Byzantine, complicated, intricate, complex
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Arabica

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