Best of Series,  Education,  Fairy Tales,  Show Notes

Episode 189: The “Best of” Series – On Fairy Stories by J.R.R. Tolkien, Ep. 57

Today on The Literary Life podcast, we bring you another episode from the “Best of” series vault, our discussion of J. R. R. Tolkien’s essay “On Fairy Stories“. Tune in again over the next two weeks as we continue the conversation with Tolkien’s short story Leaf by Niggle. If you missed the 2020 Back to School conference that Cindy introduced in this episode, you can still get the recording at

Angelina sets the stage for this discussion by orienting us to the context for the essay by Tolkien as a critique of what is considered a fairy story. She points out the difference between cautionary tales like those by Charles Perrault and the German folk and fairy tales collected by the Grimm Brothers. Our hosts highlight Tolkien’s definition of true fairy stories, ones that take place in the “perilous realm” and involve a journey element. He critiques Andrew Lang as including many stories as fairy tale that are not truly fairy stories. They also discuss topics from the essay including sub-creation, magic and spells, suspension of disbelief, and children’s responses to fairy stories.

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Commonplace Quotes:

One should forgive one’s enemies, but only after they are hanged.

Heinrich Heine

The German folk soul can again express itself. These flames do not only illuminate the final end of the old era. They also light up the new. Never before have the young men had so good a right to clean up the debris of the past. If the old men do not understand what is going on, let them grasp that we young men have gone and done it. The old goes up in flames. The new shall be fashioned from the flame of our hearts.

Joseph Goebbles

Human beings are not human doings.

Nigel Goodwin

Into My Heart an Air That Kills

by A. E. Houseman

Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows;
What are those far remembered hills,
What spires, what towns are those?

That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot go again.

Book List:

When Books Went to War by Molly Guptill Manning

Culture Care by Makoto Fujimura

Roger Lancelyn Green

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser

Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

Bandersnatch by Diana Pavlac Glyer

The Company They Keep by Diana Pavlac Glyer

Surprised by Joy by C. S. Lewis

Til We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis

Phantastes by George MacDonald

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