And if that is indeed what Nabokov wanted to say, then I vehemently disagree with him. If the novel, whether it involves "fantasy" or not, does not offer a commentary or insight into the real world, then what in the world is the point? And I'm quite sure that, if I really attempted to do so, it would be extremely easy to identify a novel in which nothing described is "not true to life." But what of it? That's like the person who watches movies to catch continuity errors without ever appreciating the film. I would like to think that Nabokov did not think that fiction was just an idle waste of time that had no bearing on anything beyond itself. Even Oscar Wilde was not that much of an aesthete.
I'm not entirely certain why it is so obvious that the Gormenghast novels are fantasy. I suppose part of it is the conceit that Castle Gormenghast itself is this huge sprawling city-state that is its own self-contained world. It seems mostly gothic, but some areas seem Regency or Victorian. There appears to be no contact of any kind with the world outside its vast walls. The characters are rather fantastical, too. But perhaps not more so than some of Dickens. Even though the Alice books are filled with dream-like bizarre fantasy, I can see why you sense a connection.
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