On Fairy Stories

There is a lot of fairy tale reading in our household.

General Thoughts on the Form, Importance, and Effect of Fairy Stories:
1. Anthropomorphism, Unlikeness, and Reality in Fiction: Opening the Eyes of the Blind

2.Chesterton, Orthodoxy, and the Cumulative Effect of Reading Fairy Tales

3. Catechisms for Your Impulses

Thoughts On Specific Fairy Stories:

1. The Light Princess, by George MacDonald

2. The Giant’s Heart, by George MacDonald

3. The Day Boy and the Night Girl, by George MacDonald

4. The Princess and Curdie, by George MacDonald

5. The Golden Key, by George MacDonald

6. The Goblin and the Grocer

7. The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien

8. A Tale of One who Traveled to Learn what Shivering Meant

9. The Young Man who would Have His Eyes Opened

10. Ribbeting Tales

11. Toads and Diamonds

12. The Marvellous Land of the Snergs, by E.A. Wyke-Smith (a personal favorite)

13. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum (another personal favorite)


10 thoughts on “On Fairy Stories

    • Yes, there are a lot of different collections. The Arabian Nights is a good one. Right now we are reading a set called Victorian Fairy Tales that is very good. Also, the various Fairy Books by Andrew Lang have a lot of great stories.

  1. The ethnics of elfland, a chapter in G.K. Chesterton’s “Orthodoxy” inspired me to get a dose of fairy tales in and not to see them as only for children. Some of them like Grimm’s fairy stories are gruesome at points (usually to those who do that which is forbidden) . Thanks for the references, I will check them out and possibly buy a collection!

  2. What did you think of the introduction of the Victorian fairy tale book?
    They viewed the Puritans hating fairy tales with the exception of pilgrims progress and what was written down in the introduction had me think about the Bibles warnings against old wives tales. You may have came across this and I hope this doesn’t exclude me from reading fairy tales because I enjoy them much!

    If you didn’t get to read the introduction then act like this chat never happened!

    Is there correlation between old wives tales and fairy tales and was this what Paul warned about in 1 Timothy 4:7 — But refuse profane and Old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.

    Lately, Ive been thinking that if I don’t read the Bible constantly ( even though that’s a good thing….getting daily bread I mean is) then I wont grow as much in godliness then if I read a fantasy or a fairy tale or divert my time in any novel.

    I get a stimulation and an ease of stress when I read stories and I just read them for the enjoyment of them.

    A person who spoke on C.s. Lewis at the desiring God Conference ( I think it was the man who did C.s. Lewis relationship with J.R.R. tolkien – Colin duriez his name was. He said that Lewis did often read the Bible but he read other books as well. He implied it in such away that it seems to me that C.S. Lewis read other literature more the Bible. ( his job was to do so )

    What I’m adding up to, is it a sin to spend much time reading other books or should one who is a a Christian devote their entire time to an direct study of the Bible with pen in hand with the exception of a brief period to read something else.

    The statement is kind of extreme ; its just I don’t want to keep on thinking im guilty for not doing something as in reading or praying enough .
    BUt neither do I want to say by my actions ” I gave you your attention God so now its “me” time” ( even though readings gets me outside my self)

    George macdonalds phantastes illustrates it well when while he (the main character) is searching for the “stone- women” whom he awakened, he ends up at a castle and in that magnificent corridor he finds a widespread library — where he spends hours and hours on end and then he shuts the book . He realizes that hes been myriads of characters in different environments but then again he never left the library!

    • First, I didn’t read the introduction to that book, and I don’t necessarily buy the idea of the Puritans hating fairy tales. The Puritan era was from 1560-1660 rougly and that was certainly before the golden age of English language fairy tales. I’m sure there were many fairy tales, but not the sort of collections that later English speaking folks had.
      The Puritans that I have read, and I’m thinking mostly of the two I’ve read most, John Owen and Thomas Brooks, both extensively quoted classical literature and mythology. I know that John Owen specifically studied the classics in college. When I read his book called ‘Biblical Theology’ I was very surprised at how often he quoted classical works from Greek literature. I don’t see how that could be considered extremely different from fairy tales. After all, the early English fairy tales, like those about St. George, are basically an English mythology.
      Next, as for the Bible. You must understand that the Bible is essentially one book. In all honesty, I spend more time reading other books on a daily basis. But I don’t read other books (at least not most books) over and over again. And so, while I may spend more time reading other books on a daily basis, there is no other book that I will read three times this year like the Bible. The cumulative effect here is what is important. I will be more consistent and repetitive in my Bible reading, so that in a given year, or lifetime, there will be no other book that even comes close in terms of the amount of time I spend reading it. And add to that the fact that, as a preacher, I am constantly studying individual passages, and reading commentaries and sermons.

      So, finally, what I am saying is this: the issue is not that you are reading the Bible more on a given day necessarily, but that you are consistently reading through it, and thinking about it. Don’t analyze your habits in terms of days, but in terms of months and years, at least relating to this topic.

      I would also add that your other reading is actually helping you understand the Bible. For instance, in 2 Samuel 22, David essentially compares God to a dragon who devours his enemies by fire. I would have just glanced over that part of the chapter if I had not read about dragons. Everything you read is enlarging your soul in a sense. It is giving you more mental furniture, or you could say, it is providing you with mental hooks on which to hang the teachings of Scripture in order to apply them in a deeper way to your life.

  3. Thank you so much for this thought here!

    This is good advice ” Don’t analyze your habits in terms of days but in terms of months and years! ”

    I pray that God would lead and shepherd you and your family with his steadfast love in the midst of all your occurrences in this pilgrimage!

    I bless your Sunday night!

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