Book Snobbery, Fairy Tales and Reality

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“The way to read a fairy tale is to throw yourself in.” ― W.H. Auden

“In a utilitarian age, of all other times, it is a matter of grave importance that fairy tales should be respected.” (Frauds on the Fairies, 1853)” ― Charles Dickens, Works of Charles Dickens

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” ― Albert Einstein

i dream of genie with blue djinn and darrens living room

I was “that child”, the one who wanted fairy tales and magic to be real. As far back as I can remember I dreamed about having supernatural powers (always good of course…well, almost always) having carpets that flew, potions that could transform anyone or anything, the ability to speak to animals. I never understood why Darren and Samantha worked so hard at concealment. Or why Jeannie didn’t dump the Major and go back to live with the Djinn….I mean, LOOK at the decor!!!! Who wouldn’t rather have scarves and pillows and elaborate brass lamps instead of that godawful avocado and mustard vibe?

Music for a fairy tale. Click me.

Music for  fairy tales. Click me.

Books fueled this. Small witches, talking mice, flying nannies, rings and boxes and mysterious rooms and islands all combined in a grand and glorious stew. Why couldn’t I have a wizard for a teacher? (maybe I would have learned math) Why couldn’t bullies simply be turned into flowerpots? Alas, eventually the adulting creeps in. And people stop being indulgent about your whimsy. And your imagination….

You stop inviting your friends over to play make believe. Or, at least, they stop accepting. And you are encouraged to put away childish things. To accumulate the right kind of books….improving books. High tone books. Books with Purpose. The wishing frogs and tall towers and magic mirrors are packed away… Book Snobbery. Where Fantasy books in the annoying “Y.A.” category are barely tolerated. Stuff and Nonsense.(keeping it G rated here. I expect points…) Children should be encouraged to read whatever they reading-on-the-buswant and adults should enjoy the same free pass. You should be proud of displaying your book on the bus whether you are reading Kafka or Twilight. There are life lessons to be found in fantasy. Fairy tales teach you that sometimes bad things do happen. (The original version of some of the most beloved and well known can be a bit brutal.

For example, the Ugly Stepsisters in Cinderella actually cut their toes off to fit into the slipper. Kiddiewinkle Disney this ain’t.. ) But good and kind usually triumph. Sometimes help can come from unexpected areas. And there is always a way out of the woods. I do live in the real world. Drive. Work. Pay taxes. Cook, clean, shop. Watch the political situation (although “real” and politics lately….never mind) When I sit at a stop light I do not think a gnome is changing the colors. I rarely look for dragons. But I still yearn for them. Magic is everywhere and everything. It may not have glittery wings, it may not be vanquished with a sword, there might not be a house dropped on it or a incantation spoken…..but it is here.

Writers poets, artists, storytellers; all know this on some level. Even if we disguise it.The human imagination is ancient. The roots of stories are found far back in oral traditions and the tales were only modified later to make them illustrations of good versus evil. We do research, we discuss, we delve and write learned papers. We collect quotes and materials, and most importantly buy the books buy the books buy the books…. Books are the real magic. The tangible, in your hands, in your face, take you wherever you want to go – Magic. Read it. Whatever the cover, whatever the rating.

If you like it, read it. Do not let any house of cards pompous proclamation tell you it’s wrong. Secretly we are looking for the elves. We want there to be fairies in the garden. We never see a shooting star without wishing. And if you are very, very lucky. You will never lose that. For the Silo, Jaye Tomas.



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