Date of Award

Spring 5-8-2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts - English



First Advisor

Michael Martin

Second Advisor

Kevin West

Third Advisor

Steven Marsden

Fourth Advisor

Karol Chandler-Ezell


Although considered by many readers to be a “cult classic,” Peter S. Beagle’s 1968 novel The Last Unicorn has been unrepresented in literary scholarship. Many fantasy critics in the past have dismissed the work as lacking a sense of reality through its mixing of modern language with a medieval, fantasy setting. However, the novel’s purposeful muddling of reality raises questions of ontology and the nature of storytelling/world-projection. The objective of this study is to not only to act as a sort of apologetic for The Last Unicorn, but also read the novel in the context of fairy tale/mythic studies and postmodern theory—specifically through the critical lenses of Bruno Bettelheim, J.R.R. Tolkien, John Barth, and Brian McHale. By simultaneously deconstructing and following fairy tale conventions/tropes, The Last Unicorn offers its reader a postmodern story that explores the reality of fiction. The complex merging of reality and myth demonstrates The Last Unicorn’s literary merit and paves the way for future postmodern fantasy works.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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