Message fiction, Victorian style

But the three hundred and sixty-five authors who try to write new fairy tales are very tiresome. They always begin with a little boy or girl who goes out and meets the fairies of polyanthuses and gardenias and apple blossoms: ‘Flowers and fruits, and other winged things.’ These fairies try to be funny, and fail; or they try to preach, and succeed.

― Andrew Lang

The apple-blossom fairies are mostly gone, thank God, but the same failing recurs in other guises. The same could be said of most of the critical darlings of any given moment, especially in our genre (which is insufferable when not humble): They try to be funny, and fail; or they try to preach, and succeed.

Hat tip to Mary Catelli.

Comments

  1. Scholar-at-Arms says:

    I’ve only encountered such Victorian fairy-tales once in my life, an execrable piece of dreck titled “the Water-Babies,” and even at the age of eight I took its cutesy-boop moralising as a personal insult.

  2. I’m re-reading “On Fairy Stories”, and I found that Tolkien mentioned the quote in the essay!

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