One of the most quoted and celebrated critical pieces of Tolkien’s is his apologia for the fantastical fiction, “On Fairy-Stories.” Here, Tolkien clarifies what it is about Marchen that draws the reader out of their normal reality to “recover” more their own reality than they would have ever dreamed. He explains several of his most important compositional tools – such as eucatastrophe and mythopoiesis – and brings critical scholarly work and discussions of trolls together in a way that can hold the attention of even this reader.
Originally a contribution to a fetschrift for a colleague (which was edited by C.S. Lewis), the article appeared in various formats, including The Tolkien Reader (1966). It is now republished in a (critical) edition by Flieger and Anderson.
On a not wholly related note, but nevertheless still within the Faerie!, is the intriguing article by Jeffrey Mallinson in the Journal Of Religion and Popular Culture: “A Potion too Strong?: Challenges in Translating the Religious Significance of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings to Film.” Now that we are somewhat sufficiently chronologically removed from the films, I’ve enjoyed looking back at some of Mallinson’s arguments. You can read his article here.
I propose to speak about fairy-stories, though I am aware that this is a rash adventure. Continue reading