Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Fairy Tales

A very good definition.

The essence of fairy-stories is that they satisfy our heart's deepest desire: to know a world other than our own, a world that has not been flattened and shrunk and emptied of mystery. To enter this other world, the fairy tale resorts to fantasy in the literal sense. It deals with phantasms or representations of things not generally believed to exist in our primary world: elves (the older word for faires), hobbits, wizards, dwarves, Ringwraiths, wargs, orcs, and the like. Far from being unreal or fantastic in the popular sense, these creatures embody the invisible qualities of the eternal world -- love and death, courage and cowardice, terror and hope -- that always impinge on our own visible universe. Fairy-stories "open as door on Other Time" Tolkien writes, "and if we pass through, though only for a moment, we stand outside our own time, outside Time itself, perhaps." Hence Tolkien's insistence that all fantasy-creations must have the mythic character of the supernatural world as well as the historical consistency of the natural world. The question to be posed for fantasy as also for many of the biblical narratives is not, therefore, "Did these things literally happen?" but "Does their happening reveal the truth?

--Vox quoting his combox contributor

Compare GKChesterton"Fairy tales are more than true--not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten."

Or compare this commentary on GKC's thoughts on fairy tales:

There are thousands of years of the fairy tale tradition, but the folks who have the most to say about it are those who defended it through the period we now call modernity (very roughly, from the Enlightenment until the 1960s) — the rise of scientific fatalism. The fairy tale is a protest against the Enlightenment, for the writers and defenders of fairy tales like Chesterton (and C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Madeleine L’Engle after him) were writing worlds of magical refuge in the midst of modernity. Without the magic of the fairy tale, the magic of life disappears in a morass of strictly rational, naturalistic facts, theories, propositions, experiments, and arguments. The fairy tale frees us from the law-based, unchangeable world of the scientific fatalist, where explanations are everywhere but wonder is lost.



Anonymous said...

Fairy tales free us from things like facts.

Are we talking about the Bible again? Or today's GOP?

Maybe both?

Billiam said...

Dad, you seem to have attracted a lot of 'anony-trolls' lately. Been leaving the garbage cans open?

Dad29 said...

It's enlightening, in a way; tells us how much ignorance and jackassery is out there.