Several Recommendations: Modern Fairy Tales

Several Fairy Tale-type Fantasy stories, welcome changes from modern Fantasy’s trend of “Tolkien, but with none of the things that make Tolkien interesting”.

In Pre-modern folklore, “fairy” is basically shorthand for “any magical creature from Otherworld” and is basically synonymous with “Elf“, a fact that modern Pop Culture has sort of lost sight of, due largely to the aforementioned “fairies-as-tiny-women-with-butterfly-wings” thing and concurrent “Elves are pointy-eared and better than you.”

– J.B. Norman, quoting J.B. Norman
"J.B. Norman, you're a genius!", posted by J.B. Norman.
– J.B. Norman, quoting J.B. Norman

I think that’s a good starting point for this round of Fairy Tale-focused recommendations (not, of course to be confused with popular anime and manga franchise Fairy Tail), because while all of these recommendations were written within 100 years of the present, they all deal with depictions of Elves and Fairies and the world they inhabit which resembles the old folkloric understanding of Elves and Fairies infinitely more than Disney-esque Fairies and Dungeons & Dragons-esque Elves.

Tales from the Perilous Realm is fascinating both for reflecting Tolkien’s ideas of both what Fairy Tales are and what they are for, and the essay “On Fairy-Stories” is itself a fascinating look at a brilliant scholar carrying out a high-level scholarly investigation.

I think Tales from the Perilous Realm was the first recommendation I ever did. And it’s a fascinating little book, with several novella-length stories that range from whimsical to amazingly profound and a collection of poems presented as genuine Hobbit poems from the Shire.

It is, yet again, a chance for Tolkien to demonstrating his mastery of both language and storytelling, but also clearly demonstrates a fantastic example of Tolkien the scholar rather than Tolkien the Fantasy author by including the essay “On Fairy-Stories”, which isn’t necessarily a fun read, but does offer some very valuable insight into Tolkien’s literary philosophy.

The full recommendation is here:

So, yeah, take a chance on visiting the Perilous Realm and going beyond the fields we know. Just be mindful of finding your way back…

The King of Elfland’s Daughter was another early recommendation from me.

Lord Dunsany wrote a lot of weird stuff, and King of Elfland’s Daughter isn’t really an exception to that. It might be a little (or a lot) unusual — or even grating — to modern sensibility’s, but it’s worth reading because of how unlike most recent it is.

Also, the writing style itself is so poetic and unique that just the sound of reading it is fascinating even when the story is dragging on.

The full recommendation is here:

For the most part, Stardust is essentially a fairly traditional Fairy Tale sort of story. Or at least a modern, fairly self-ware spin of traditional Fairy Tale stories and it tells that story well. There’s humour, both the regular kind and the darkly hilarious kind. There’s enough Fantasy-y action that the film rises to epic grandeur in some scenes. There’s romance.

Also, there’s Robert De Niro playing a crossdressing sky pirate.

Finally, there’s Stardust: the movie of the book of Neil Gaiman‘s take on The King of Elfland’s Daughter.

Admittedly, the movie is less thoughtful and intelligent than the book, but the trade-off is that it’s more accessible and probably more simply fun than the book.

It’s maybe less impressive overall, but it’s a good adaptation and it’s worth at least a watch.

My full recommendation is here:

There’s my three most recent recommendation posts. The others are here:

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