Tolkien on Fairy-stories by J.R.R. Tolkien
Tolkien first defines “Faerie” as a place, and a type of story. According to him, fairies are not required, but a belief in the other world typifies “Faerie.” This belief is not a mock-reality, of what he calls our “Primary Reality,” but a secondary reality, just as real. This is not a place to make-believe, but to truly believe, and here you find the reason children are more apt to like these stories. Children trust, and believe, without the complication of big words and deeper meanings to hide simple truth. However, Tolkien argues these stories are for adults too. This secondary world brings the person out of time here in this reality and into another, perhaps into a timeless reality (which we all may have experienced when we’ve had to go about our business after an hour of great fiction). He cites many stories, of which King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table resonate in my memory and familiarity.
He argues we are all “sub-creators,” created in the image of a Maker. Herein lies an argument for the existence of God, of which I’m not familiar in philosophical and apologetic circles, since I haven’t a clue of apologetics and philosophy. Imagine the implications of this though. Do you write, create people and worlds? What if they really exist? Are they real enough, or are they flat personalities in their world? Does their world have three dimensions? Four? Two? One? Are you taking care of your creation?
Tolkien offers criticism of many stories and authors, including Chesterton and Shakespeare. Drama, he says, diametrically opposes Fantasy. He writes, “…tragedy is the true form of drama,” but refers to Fantasy as “Eucatastrophe,” which somehow means a happy ending always comes about. He also argues against the critics who call Fantasy an “escapist” practice. He says many other ways exist of escape that seem much more ridiculous, such as the escape into scientific endeavors leading to the creation of weapons of war, leading to destruction.
Finally, in the last few pages, he comes to the crux of his argument, the final point, which centers on his Christian faith. He says all stories of fantasy and of Fairy (In German referred to as “Elf”) represent a deeper story, a real story of the Christ and his incarnation and death on the cross. He ends in beautiful words, which I took to mean Fantasy reveals the bliss and wonder of eternity in heaven as the understanding of the human race foreshadows what humanity will be like in heaven with resurrected bodies: “All tales may come true; and yet, at the last, redeemed, they may be as like and as unlike the forms that we give them as Man, finally redeemed, will be like and unlike the fallen that we know.”
Tolkien’s essay helps me understand why The Lord of The Rings remains my favorite of all time. I share a spiritual world-view with Tolkien, and his trilogy strengthens me and gives me hope. I see warnings against evil choices in the person of Smeagol, who became corrupted and pitiful Gollum. I see greatness in smallness, a promise of honor in humility and denying personal dignity in Frodo, a tiny Hobbit, who carries the fate of the world around his neck. I see the true hero in the end, who remained invisible with Frodo and Sam both throughout their journey. I see Providence in the destruction of the ring (one of the best climaxes, if not the best climax ever!). I see the final victory of all good over all evil. Whenever I despair, I think of the Hobbits, and Tolkien’s world, and find comfort in, as Tolkien puts it, “the underlying reality.”
Although I’d find great pleasure in studying Tolkien, and learning of him that I may learn to be a better rookie writer, he tells (warns rather) writers to learn more from stories themselves than the analysis of the stories. This could also be phrased as, “you learn better by doing than talking,” or “experiencing rather than reading about it.”
I love the way Tolkien writes; how exquisite the language he uses. I appreciate his heart, his mind, and his faith. I can’t wait to meet him in the “secondary world” of Middle Earth when it becomes “Primary.”
I plan to read this essay again, many times over.
Education as Enchantment: Tolkien’s Essay “On Fairy-Stories”
On March 8, , J. Faerie itself may perhaps most nearly be translated by Magic — but it is magic of a peculiar mood and power, at the furthest pole from the vulgar devices of the laborious, scientific, magician. There is one proviso: if there is any satire present in the tale, one thing must not be made fun of, the magic itself. That must in that story be taken seriously, neither laughed at nor explained away. Mythology is not a disease at all, though it may like all human things become diseased.
On Fairy-Stories is an important essay and lecture written by J. Tolkien on the fantasy genre and its practice, much later published as a book. Tolkien originally wrote the essay in for his Andrew Lang lecture on the subject of fairy tales in general to an audience at University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Afterwards, it was first published within Essays Presented to Charles Williams in It has since been renewed as a standalone Expanded edition pictured right , edited by Tolkien scholars Verlyn Flieger and Douglas Anderson , in The essay contains Tolkien's explanation of his philosophy on fantasy and on "faerie", and thoughts on the crafting of the mythos.
Jump to navigation. We are glad to provide a platform for discussion of ideas about classical Christian education in K education and beyond, but publication is not an endorsement from Classical Conversations. While not a philosopher of education, I am a philosopher, an educator, and—what is more—a Tolkienist. It is with these as my only credentials or only excuse that I propose to write here on the topic of education by way of J. Second, what is their origin they are rooted simultaneously in the human mind and in human language? And third, what is their use fairy stories perform the fourfold function of Fantasy, Recovery, Escape, and Consolation? It is this desire that, Tolkien argues in the conclusion of his essay, is fulfilled in the Christian Gospel of the Incarnation and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In J.R.R Tolkien's essay "On Fairy Stories" he argues that it is not necessary to be a child to enjoy and read J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit: Summary & Analysis.
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Tolkien On Fairy-stories. London: HarperCollins Publishers, ISBN Within the pages of any journal concerned with J. We might therefore expect a variorum edition, with detailed discussion of the textual history of the essay, copious notes and commentary, contemporary reports, and two bibliographies to be read even more closely by scholars and serious students, but even less so by everybody else.