Fairy Tales; Their Origin and Meaning by John Thackray Bunce

I did a search on the word “Fairy” at Project Gutenberg the other day and came across the book: Fairy Tales; Their Origin and Meaning by John Thackray Bunce, originally published in the late 1800’s. Here is some wonderful text from the beginning of the book:

We are going into Fairy Land for a little while, to see what we can find there to amuse and instruct us this Christmas time. Does anybody know the way? There are no maps or guidebooks, and the places we meet with in our workaday world do not seem like the homes of the Fairies. Yet we have only to put on our Wishing Caps, and we can get into Fairy Land in a moment. The house-walls fade away, the winter sky brightens, the sun shines out, the weather grows warm and pleasant; flowers spring up, great trees cast a friendly shade, streams murmur cheerfully over their pebbly beds, jewelled fruits are to be had for the trouble of gathering them; invisible hands set out well-covered dinner-tables, brilliant and graceful forms flit in and out across our path, and we all at once find ourselves in the midst of a company of dear old friends whom we have known and loved ever since we knew anything.

“There are no maps or guidebooks, and the places we meet with in our workaday world do not seem like the homes of the Fairies. Yet we have only to put on our Wishing Caps, and we can get into Fairy Land in a moment.” – That’s the feeling I want to capture in my novel. That encapsulates it right there.  The whole idea of escaping our mundane world to a world of magic, that’s what reading is all about to me.  That’s what I want the reader to feel when they pick up something I have written.

3 thoughts on “Fairy Tales; Their Origin and Meaning by John Thackray Bunce

  1. A worthy goal!

    Have you ever read about how the Victorians shaped fairy tale? I reviewed an essay last year for a Dickens Studies journal on the topic and found it quite intriguing. The essay (written by Molly Clark Hillard) contended that the Victorians sanitized the various versions of “fairies” such as the terrifying fairies of folk tales, hobgoblins, and laboring house sprites. The Victorians associated fairies with a vanishing rural past and since they were nostalgic about what they were losing during the Industrial Revolution, they coopted fairies into their attempts to idealize the past.

    I know. Pretty heavy comment to post on someone’s blog!

    I was just thinking, though, about escapism and fairies and fantasy worlds, and it seemed relevant. In today’s world, I think we are still nostalgic for what we imagine we’ve lost (whether it really ever existed or not is open to debate). I find it interesting that you are writing a fairy tale. It seems somehow fitting.

    Good luck.

  2. That’s a great way to look at it – a world with no map or guidebooks. A place where you have to find your own way, instead of following the route of someone before you.

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