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.
“Faërie 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?