Tolkien and Dangerous Fairies

I told you I was taking a Tolkien class; there are obviously going to be a plethora of topics that  I can tie into my own writing journey. As I am very interested in the topics concerning myth, I found it fascinating what he said about fairy stories.

“I propose to speak about fairy-stories though I am aware that this is a rash adventure. Fairie is a perilous land and in it are pitfalls for the unwary and dungeons for the overbold. And overbold I may be accounted, for though I have been a lover of fairy-stories since I learned to read, and have at times bought about them, I have not studied them professionally. I have been hardly more than a wandering explorer (or trespasser) in the land, full of wonder but not of information.”

Dream Fairy

In what way is a myth/fairy-tale true?

Tolkien sees myths as a new realm of the human imagination that is not true in the sense that science can measure it but is much more true in the ideas that it conveys. Our  skewered ideas of fairy tales being mainly for children comes from our pathetically watered down versions that we are familiar with. Ideals of good, evil, desirability, and identity are found in myths and myths are essential to understanding the world around us.

“He sees no starts who does not see them first

of living silver that sudden burst

to flame like flowers beneath the ancient song

whose very echo after-music long

has since pursued. There is no firmament,

only a void, unless a jeweled tent

myth-woven and elf-patterned; and no earth,

unless the mother’s womb whence all have birth.”

Fairy Tale

Our World is Enchanted to You Know

It is true that child-like wonder draws young people to good stories (haha, I know I’m still too young to be talking about “young people” in a generalized way, but bear with me!) but even as the experience life and grow hardened up, they need to keep the fundamental wonder and ideals that we can learn through fantasy. The idea that the scientific version of reality excludes the mythic reality is complete rubbish! We understand scientific reality better perhaps when we are older but it should be the same for the mythic reality. We should better understand and want to explore ideals and grow in wonder through myths when we are adults and able to get more from the stories, not dismiss them. When we loose a sense of the enchantment of reality then we loose a beautiful, essential part of who we are.

What do you think myth is? What kind of story do you want write? In other words, how will you portray reality?


I want to eventually be able to write fairy-tale in the sense of “adult myths.” People deserve to again get fantastic literature which challenges them to think, illustrates realities that we cannot see, and is rewardingly dangerous.


3 thoughts on “Tolkien and Dangerous Fairies

  1. “illustrates realities that we cannot see”

    This is key, in my opinion. So many people won’t believe it if they don’t see it. But there’s more out there than what we can see!

    I think about the wind. We can’t see it, but we know it is there because of what it does; the way it affects the world is beautiful, wonderful, and sometimes dangerous, but no one has ever actually *seen* the wind.

  2. Pingback: Nocturne (The Shadows of Night Saga) Part 1 | Excursions Into Imagination

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