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Tale of the Month > March 2012 Tale of Month - Belief

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message 1: by Christine (new)

Christine (chrisarrow) | 1388 comments Mod
Clap if you believe, Barrie demanded, and who among us can refuse him?
Whether you call them fairy or faerie, fairy tales or stories, the magic is always there. It is impossible not to clap. It is more than the simple innocence of childhood that attracts people to fairy. Childhood classics such as Caddie Woodlawn or Narnia rarely get read just by adults. Yet, it is not uncommon to find an adult reading fairy tales, drawing fairies, or even dressing up as a fairy when there are no children present. Faerie offers innocence and adult knowledge all at once, it adapts and flexes as each person grows into adulthood.

Despite the never-ending debate over suitability, fairy tales are the first door by which many people enter faerie. Though many fairy tales, such as “Little Red Riding Hood” or “Snow White,” lack fairies, the magical elements – the talking wolf or the beauty judge mirror – compensate. We do not even notice the lack of winged creatures, and only half heartedly notice them when they appear in stories like “Cinderella” who may also be helped by a fish, cow, or tree as well as a fairy godmother.
For some people, however, the first door isn’t the written word but the drawn picture, usually the Disney picture. In the cartoon universe of Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella fairies abound-Flora, Fauna, Meriwether, and Tinkerbelle, or even Magnificent. Disney fairies, like their predecessors, are the best and the worst, helpers and cursers. So powerful are these images that for many people, Sleeping Beauty is surrounded by three grandmotherly fairies and hunted by Cruella de Ville’s evil sister, regardless of what version of the story they are reading.
As we grow older, we experience fairy tales differently. We move from the Grimm Brothers to Robin McKinley to A. S. Byatt. We move from charming illustrations in a children’s book to the more adult drawings in the comic Grimm’s Tales. We look back at the stories from our youth and see them differently. Beatrix Potter’s illustrations become more than cute, Bluebeard becomes both more and less sinister, Red Riding Hood is dealing with something more than a wolf, and Tinkerbell’s jealous provokes some serious thought. We learn that we weren’t the only one who hated the failure of the eldest child. The change challenges readers to dig further, to read not only the stories, but the criticism allowing Tinkerbelle to morph into Titiania.

Some people are attracted to the art work of fairyland, and begin to draw, not just their version of the stories, but truly stunning (and sometimes horrifying) representations of the magical beasts. Others are attracted to the various stages of fairies in literature and write essays about them. Others write stories, wanting more than the fairy tales offer. Therefore, one of the magics of faerie is the ability to move the human from consumer of art to creator of art.
Not only do such tales reflect society, they speak to society in terms of gender, economy, and even politics. In this, they mirror the growing awareness of the world that people develop as they age. When the fifty year old man returns to the tale of Jack the Beanstalk that he read as a young boy, not only does he recreate that feeling from childhood, but he sees something new be it in the tale itself or his reaction to it.
There is always something new in faerie and that is important; therefore, we always still believe even if the perspective changes. As our knowledge grows so does the realm of each fairy tale that we read. Beatrix Potter, Tolkien, even Disney’s Cinderella they continue with us pass our childhood. They become more than comfort food. As adults, we apprentice Potter, Tolkien, Perrault, and D’Aulony in ways that we never could as a child. They become more than old friends, more than teachers, almost a ghostly being that stays with us, a second soul. And this is what makes them last. It isn’t just their ability to inspire creation; it’s their ability to stand not the test of the time, but the test of the reader’s growth.
Faeries and fairy tales adapt like humans. While humankind has adjusted to extreme cold and heat, fairs have moved from simply magical grandmothers to purveyors of steam punk, from pretty dressed Tinkerbell to the biting blood hunger fairies of Labyrinth, they even are romantic leads in a variety of books for a variety of readers. It is this changeability, this ability to be both innocent and worldly wise that draws us to fairy. They are both sexual and non-sexual. They are like cats, changeable in an instant, but not just because of what they are, but because of what we, humans conflicted beings ourselves, see them as. It is this magic that speaks and resonates to our belief.

message 2: by Tony (new)

Tony (tmpalao) | 12 comments An insightful & thought provoking analysis Chris. The valid, sound points you brought up - many of which I'd never considered before - offered me something truly valuable: vindication.

As an adult male existing far outside of the scholarly world, I've felt compelled to keep my life-long fascination with "that kid stuff" to myself; unsure of how to articulate why it interests me so. But you did just that, and I thank you.

I think you also offered an explanation to something I've wondered much about of late: why the recent proliferation of the Faerie Tale in our popular culture today? Grimm & Once Upon A Time on network TV & two upcoming feature film treatments of Snow White, just to name a few. This has probably already been covered in the group, but I get it now. Thanks again.

message 3: by Christine (new)

Christine (chrisarrow) | 1388 comments Mod
Gosh Tony, you're welcome. Thank you for the kind words.

message 4: by Diane (new)

Diane Reed Chris wrote: "Clap if you believe, Barrie demanded, and who among us can refuse him?
Whether you call them fairy or faerie, fairy tales or stories, the magic is always there. It is impossible not to clap. I..."

Just an AMAZING article, Chris! So eloquent yet from the heart. I sincerely hope you consider publishing this somewhere. You captured all my thoughts (that I hadn't even quite articulated) in this wonderful reminder of why fairy tales evoke and inspire so much within us. Truly loved it : )

message 5: by Phair (new)

Phair (sphair) | 34 comments Don't recall where I came across this title, now on my TBR list. [Maybe it was in this group!?] I thought it fit into this discussion thread. Anyone here read it? Faery Tale: One Woman's Search for Enchantment in a Modern World

message 6: by Christine (new)

Christine (chrisarrow) | 1388 comments Mod
Heard of it, haven't read it. Have you read it?

message 7: by Diane (new)

Diane Reed OMG--just looked it up and it's by Signe Pike & it looks so good I'm drooling. FaeryTale is her memoir of how she actually traveled to Mexico, England, Ireland & Scotland in search of faery traditions. What a fun spring read--thanks for bringing it to our attention, Phair : )

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