Why I Love Fairy Tales|
These quotes take my breath away with how deftly they lay out the truth behind the power of fairy tales and fantasy literature. Please enjoy.
“Classic fairy tales do not deny the existence of heartache and sorrow, but they do deny universal defeat.”
Fairy Tales published by Greenhaven Press
“We may say that the characters in fairytales are ‘good to think with’…[and that] the job of the fairytale is to show that Why? questions cannot be answered except in one way: by telling the stories. The story does not contain the answer, it is the answer.”
Brian Wicker, A Story-Shaped World
"Many readers simply can't stomach fantasy. They immediately picture elves with broadswords or mighty-thewed barbarians with battle axes, seeking the bejeweled Coronet of Obeisance ... (But) the best fantasies pull aside the velvet curtain of mere appearance. ... In most instances, fantasy ultimately returns us to our own now re-enchanted world, reminding us that it is neither prosaic nor meaningless, and that how we live and what we do truly matters."
Michael Dirda in the Washington Post, 2002
"We all like astonishing tales because they touch the nerve of the ancient instinct of astonishment. This is proved by the fact that when we are very young children we do not need fairy tales: we only need tales. Mere life is interesting enough. A child of seven is excited by being told that Tommy opened a door and saw a dragon. But a child of three is excited by being told that Tommy opened a door. Boys like romantic tales; but babies like realistic tales – because they find them romantic. In fact, a baby is about the only person, I should think, to whom a modern realistic novel could be read without boring him.
"This proves that even nursery tales only echo an almost pre-natal leap of interest and amazement. These tales say that apples were golden only to refresh the forgotten moment when we found that they were green. They make rivers run with wine only to make us remember, for one wild moment, that they run with water."
"The Ethics of Elfland," Orthodoxy, G. K. Chesterton
Fairy tales since the beginning of recorded time, and perhaps earlier, have been “a means to conquer the terrors of mankind through metaphor."
Return to On Writing