Tolkien Gateway

On Fairy-Stories

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On Fairy-Stories is an essay written by Tolkien about the reader who enters a realm full of fairy tales. An excerpt is shown below.

"The realm of fairy-story is wide and deep and high and filled with many things: all manner of beasts and birds are found there; shoreless seas and stars uncounted; beauty that is an enchantment, and an ever-present peril; both joy and sorrow sharp as swords. In that realm a man may, perhaps, count himself fortunate to have wandered, but its very richness and strangeness tie the tongue of the traveller who would report them. And while he is there it is dangerous for him to ask too many questions, lest the gate should be shut and the keys be lost." -- J.R.R. Tolkien, "On Fairy-Stories," in The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays

Publications

The essay was first delivered as a lecture in 1939 and was first published in Essays Presented to Charles Williams. It was subsequently published in a revised form in Tree and Leaf and The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays (1983). In 2008, an expanded edition by editors Verlyn Flieger & Douglas A. Anderson was published (On Fairy-stories (expanded edition)).