Monday, February 9, 2009

Neil Gaiman on Fairy Tales

On Thursday February 5th 2009, CBC's Jian Ghomeshi interviewed British writer Neil Gaiman about his upcoming book-to-film Coraline, during which they discussed the purpose and the point of fairy tales.

Click here to visit CBC's Q podcast page (February 5th, 2009).

As you can imagine, as a storyteller, I was pleased, relieved, and excited to hear such talk. Too many people in our North American society regard fairy tales, fables, and myths as only frivolous entertainment. Because they are not literally true, they are (at best) a distraction and (at worst) contain no useful information or serve no constructive purpose.

At the beginning of Gaiman's Coraline, he presents the following quotation:
“Fairy Tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”
G. K. Chesterton
Here's part of what Gaiman had to say about that quote:
I think what I love about that is that it talks about what you are taking away with you from a fairy tale, and what the real morals are, and what functions these things serve. And Chesterton wrote this wonderful essay in which he talks about fairy tales and he says:

"They do not tell children that there is a bogeyman out there. Children know that there is a bogeyman out there. They know that there are monsters out there. They know that there are dangerous things. What is important is to tell them that the bad thing can be beaten."
It's important for kids to be taught that, but it's even more important for adults to be reminded of that. Our lives are filled with beasts, but known and unknown. Myth reminds us that we can beat our dragons if we take a stand, hold our own, and allow our courage to fuel our actions.

In this way, stories can inspire us to move forward, take risks, and enjoy our victories. I hope as you visit this site, and when you can, come see a show, that you find inspiration in the adventures of our heroes as they face their challenges.


Purple Butterflies said...

I always wondered why they were so quick to give their precious awards to those boring "socially redeeming" shows that makes everyone feel like crap. Why not the amazing movies that stimulate the imagination and give people something to dream about.

DW Golden
Soar with Fairies in a new young adult novel: Purple Butterflies

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