The Timelessness of Fairy Tales


There's something about fairy tales which clicks with us; something we ache for; something we've locked away behind the heart-shaped keyhole. There's a certain desire – or perhaps loyalty – to which we regard them, and they're a part of our childhood we protect with our imaginary iron swords and fictitious bravery. And yet, why is this? Surely fairy tales transcend age, right? Surely we don't have to justify still reading them?

Whoever decided to directly associate fairy tales with children, and innocence, and immaturity, made a fatal flaw. As I've grown up, I've found fairy tales to be just as universal and intriguing – and darker than I'd previously realised.

Fairy tales offer a myriad of adventures, they're rich in morals, and, although intimately familiar, they never seem to tire. Whilst I'll admit the older collections – although fantastically morbid – do have their flaws, it's from fairy tales I personally learnt to see the reality behind fantasy. 

“FaĆ«rie contains many things besides elves and fays, and besides dwarfs, witches, trolls, giants, or dragons; it holds the seas, the sun, the moon, the sky; and the earth, and all things that are in it: tree and bird, water and stone, wine and bread, and ourselves, mortal men, when we are enchanted.” – J.R.R. Tolkein, Tolkien on Fairy-stories

It seems to me that fairy tales are ageless. We have the toned-down childhood versions which teach us the morals, and the darker originals which delve deeper into the human condition. And yet, both do this with a sprinkle of gritty stardust, allowing us to explore other realms.

“Old stories have a habit of being told and retold and changed. Each subsequent storyteller puts his or her mark upon it. Whatever truth the story once had is buried in bias and embellishment. The reasons do not matter as much as the story itself.” – Erin Morgenstern

So, yes, fairy tales are timeless. Perhaps I won't always be reading the same fairy tales, and perhaps I won't always be reading about faeries and goblins, but maybe I'll read new and different variations of these tales. Whatever the case, I believe the faint trace of magic will always lace the pages I fold.

Do you still read fairy tales? Do you think you'll ever grow out of them?

16 comments:

  1. That's a beautiful way of looking at them. I see fairy tales as part of certain cultural traditions, and that's the fun I get: kids from all generations grew up with them, and so I do agree that they are universal.

    -P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

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    1. Ooh yes! They're definitely a huge part of culture. :)

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  2. I think most of my favourite writers tend to base their stories on fairy tales - Neil Gaiman...Laini Taylor...Erin Morgenstern...and Sally Gardner (who does a brilliant job of making fairy tales even grimmer and grislier than they were in the beginning - recommend!)
    This post also made me think of Cady's fairy tales in We Were Liars - which fitted in so well with the contemporary chapters. I read it recently to my son and we had to stop after each fairy tale and work out which of the original stories were hinted at - and which characters represented the Liars.
    So - no - I don't think fairy tales will ever get old. And I'm passing them on to the next generation already!

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    1. Same here! I love any authors who reshape fairy tales, bringing them back to their traditional and darker roots. Neil Gaiman in particular is great!

      And yes, I thought the fairy tales were a wonderful edition to We Were Liars – they added so much depth! :)

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  3. I love fairytales - their concepts, their hidden messages... It saddens me that I haven't read many retellings of fairytales - or the original fairytales either!

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    1. I definitely need to read more retellings!

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  4. This post is so beautifully written! I never read fairytales as a child, but - even as a teen - I want to start. I feel like I've missed some of the magic and I want to be able to experience it. And, being Christmas, I'm convinced it's the perfect time to curl up with one!

    Brilliant post, Ruby!

    -Sophie :)

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    1. Thank you Sophie! And yes, Christmas is definitely a time for fairy tales! (:

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  5. I love fairy tales. I read Grimm's Fairy Tales a few years ago and I loved it. I also like fairytale adaptations. I think there's something for everyone like you said, the toned down versions for children and then the darker originals which I am always shocked by. I can't believe the original version of The Little Mermaid!

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    1. Ooh yes it's horrible haha (but fascinating too)! :) I definitely need to read more adaptions too. :D

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  6. Fairytales really are timeless. As I've got older, I've also realised how much darker they are, and in turn, fallen in love with them in a different way to when I was younger. I find them quite fascinating in a way, and I love reading about their backgrounds and discovering different things about them that I didn't know- it really is quite magical..! :)

    Lovely post, Ruby!! xx

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    1. I totally agree about falling in love with them in a different way. There's a brilliant C.S. Lewis quote which comes to mind: "Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again." It definitely shows how ageless they are!

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  7. This is such a lovely, thought-provoking post. I agree, there is a wonderful, timelessness that comes with fairy tales. Quite honestly, I haven't read a fairy-tale in a long time. However, your post brings back memories of when I used to read them frequently, and I know I'll be picking them up again soon :)
    I tagged you to write a post about how reading has impacted your life! It would be great if you checked it out. :) http://andsothebookbegins.blogspot.com/2014/12/discussion-post-how-reading-has.html

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  8. I think perhaps the beauty of fairy stories is that they're timeless. They seem to evolve and grow as we do, and that's why humans hold them so close to our hearts. Some stories we can grow out of, but fairytales can never be cast aside, no matter how old one is. The thing is, I love my favourite fairytales in such a different capacity and for different reasons than I did as a child, and maybe that's the best part - as my perspectives change, so do the meanings behind the stories.

    Gorgeous post - thank you so much for sharing!

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  9. Absolutely delightful to read, your blog is brilliant to admire!

    The Film Burrow | Films & Books

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  10. I doubt I'll ever properly grow up, and I don't really want to to be honest. I think fairy tales are a brilliant representation of childhood, yes; it shows a much more innocent time where we believed dragons could be slain with a single sword wound and boys always looked like Aladdin and there was always a happy ending. But I agree with you that we shouldn't feel embarrassed as we grow older to still be captivated by the magic of these stories. Thank goodness for Disney, eh? ;) love the blog. :)

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