Cs Lewis Essay On Fairy Tales
[…] Where the children’s story is simply the right form for what the author has to say, then of course readers who want to hear that, will read the story or re-read it, at any age…I am almost inclined to set it up as a canon that a children’s story which is enjoyed only by children is a bad children’s story. A waltz which you can like only when you are waltzing is a bad waltz. Tolkien had memorably articulated the same sentiment seven decades earlier, in asserting that there is no such thing as writing “for children,” and Neil Gaiman eloquently echoed it in a recent interview. In the spring of 1952, Lewis delivered a magnificent and wonderfully dogma-defiant talk at the Library Association titled “On Three Ways of Writing for Children,” eventually adapted into an essay and published in Lewis’s I think there are three ways in which those who write for children may approach their work; two good ways and one that is generally a bad way.I say ‘gadget’ because it was not a magic ring or hat or cloak or any such traditional matter.
Just like every generation reports the alleged death of the novel, Lewis argues that “about once every hundred years some wiseacre gets up and tries to banish the fairy tale.” In a passage especially prescient in our age when fanciful untruths like creationism are still taught in classrooms, Lewis writes: [The fairy tale] is accused of giving children a false impression of the world they live in.This is the way of storytellers like Lewis Carroll and J. Nor, I suspect, would it be possible, thus face to face, to regale the child with things calculated to please it but regarded by yourself with indifference or contempt. In any personal relation the two participants modify each other.You would become slightly different because you were talking to a child and the child would become slightly different because it was being talked to by an adult.I now like hock, which I am sure I should not have liked as a child. I call this growth or development because I have been enriched: where I formerly had only one pleasure, I now have two.But if I had to lose the taste for lemon-squash before I acquired the taste for hock, that would not be growth but simple change.Lewis writes: as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves.To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence.And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. But then into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development: When I was ten I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.The modern view seems to me to involve a false conception of growth. One was a lady who sent me the [manuscript] of a story she had written in which a fairy placed at a child’s disposal a wonderful gadget. But perhaps the greatest and most ardent advocate for this notion was C. I came to know of the bad way quite recently and from two unconscious witnesses.