Follow Me, I Want to Teach You Something

Topics: Fairy tale, Elf, Runic alphabet Pages: 6 (2339 words) Published: March 27, 2008
Tolkien has created many guidelines that help define what a Faerie story consists of. Tolkien is so specific that you get the feeling that the only books that fit into the guidelines are his own. Of course there are thousands of books and stories that people call Fairy-Tales that don’t fit into everyone of these guidelines, but a new genre hasn’t been created. This fact leaves one wondering; do everyone one of Tolkien’s guidelines need to be achieved for a book to be called a Faerie story? The answer to me is that the situation can not be possible. Now you are left to wonder how many of the guidelines need to be achieved before being placed in the Faerie category. Also, are some of Tolkien’s guidelines more important than the others? These answers are unfortunately way more difficult to come by. The reason for this is that everyone will weight the guidelines in their own way; some of the aspects that Tolkien has laid out are definitely more important to me that they would be to you, and some of the things that Tolkien said have no meaning to me at all. My main question is, do you need some guidelines to tell you what a Fairy-Tale is, or can you decide for yourself? I would like to bring up an example to help you get a feeling of what I am talking about. The book, “The King of Elfland’s Daughter” written by Lord Dunsany, before Tolkien wrote his guidelines, will serve perfectly. “The King of Elfland’s Daughter” is known today as a classic Faerie story, which even influenced Tolkien himself. Can this book stand up to Tolkien’s guidelines? Does this book meet enough of the guidelines, and are the guidelines that it does meet enough? Can this book be a Fairy-Tale because you believe it to be so? To answer these questions we will first look at some of Tolkien’s guidelines and then see if “The King of Elfland’s Daughter” achieved them. Tolkien says “Most good ‘fairy-stories’ are about the adventures of men in the Perilous Realm or upon its shadowy marches.” (Tolkien 42) Well, that is simple enough, “The King of Elfland’s Daughter” is about a man named Alveric who is sent by his father into Elfland so that he could marry the King’s daughter, Lirazel, and bring her back to their land of Erl, so that magic will be present. The story of course isn’t that simple, many things come of Alveric’s journey into Elfland and the actions that he took while he was there. But I am getting off my point; just by the fact the Alveric is a man who goes on an adventure near and into the land of Faerie, one of Tolkien’s guidelines have already been met. How much weight does this hold in the final decision, not that much, if this was the only guideline thousands of books that met this would be included in the category of Fairy Tales. Let us go further into Tolkien’s guidelines and see if more are met. Tolkien was a huge believer in the fact that if a writer used the dream world to convey tales of the Faerie that it couldn’t be counted as an actual Fairy-Tale. “I would also exclude, or rule out of order, any story that uses the machinery of Dream…I would condemn the whole as gravely defective: like a good picture in a disfiguring frame.” (Tolkien 45) Also very straight forward, if it is a dream than it is not of Faerie! “The King of Elfland’s Daughter” is not a dream, it is not happening in a dream and I don’t think there is any talk of dreaming throughout the whole book. Is this important? Does this mean that all books that have adventurous men who aren’t dreaming are Fairy Tales? Does it mean that a book in which the story is a dream isn’t a Fairy-Tale? Tolkien thought that “one of the primal ‘desires’ that lie near the heart of Faerie: the desire of men to hold communion with other living things” but he makes it clear that a human must be present, “But in the stories in which no human being is concerned; or in which the animals are the heroes and heroines, and men and women, if they appear, are mere adjuncts; and above all those in which the...
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