On Fairy-Stories

I’ve been trying to dig a bit deeper into Tolkien lately. It seems that every mention of him I find in books and blogs finds him quoting material from a lecture he gave in 1939 titled “On Fairy-Stories”. The outline goes something like:

  • What are fairy stories? How are they different from other sorts of stories, drama, and literature? (Hint: It doesn’t have anything to do with whether they have fairies in them or not)
  • What is their origin? Where did they come from? How have they evolved? What is the connectio to myth?
  • Why are they especially associated with Children? Perhaps they should not be.
  • In what ways to they differ and overlap with elements of “Fantasy” literature?
  • Are they escapism? Yes, but that’s not actually a bad thing.
  • There is joy to be found in them. Joy of the same sort C.S. Lewis speaks of in Surprised by Joy. Why is that? It is tied to Tolkien’s theology of God the creator, mankind his image bearers, and his philosophy of creation and “sub-creation” as he calls it.

Good stuff. I have a lot of passages bookmarked for blogging in the next couple of days.