I readily admit it: I’m a fairy tale fanatic. And I love the fact that 500 new fairy tales have been discovered in Germany. It’s like a little fictional treasure chest has been dug up after 150 years.
There’s now a whole new array of magical creatures, brave heroes, beautiful princesses and evil witches we can discover. The new tales are part of a collection that was gathered by Franz Xaver in the Bavarian region of Oberpfalz at about the same time as the Brothers Grimm where collecting fairy tales.
The stories are being translated into English. The guardian has published one of the newly discovered fairytales.
Fairy tales for adults?
It was often said that fairy tales had become something only for children. But thankfully fairy tales, as in days of old, are becoming more and more part of adult entertainment again. This can be seen in two movie adaptations of the Snow White fairy tale that are both coming out this year:
1. Mirror Mirror
2. Snow White and the Huntsman
What is it about fairy tales that is so captivating, even for adults? J.R.R. Tolkien makes an interesting point about what attracts adults to this genre in his essay “On Fairy-Stories”:
“The prime value of fairy-stories will simply be that value which, as literature, they share with other literary forms. But fairy-stories offer also, in a peculiar degree or mode, these things: Fantasy, Recovery, Escape, Consolation, all things of which children have, as a rule, less need than older people.”
And not only do we still love fairy tales as adults, we enjoy watching version upon version of the same fairy tale. It doesn’t seem to matter that we know the ending.
In “The Enduring Modern Phenomenon of The Fairy Tale”, Chris Goodwin states:
“The common sense morals to “Little Red Riding Hood” can be endlessly rewritten into relevant forms, distilled down to essentials: Don’t talk to strangers, Appearances can be deceiving, etc. and so while an earlier version of the tale has the Wolf tricking Red into eating some of Grandma and a modern, more child-friendly version might not, both can be told as the same story and the core message will still resonate with truth without needing any one version to predominate.”
Fairy tales are therefore timeless. The moral of the story can be adjusted to still speak to modern viewers of all ages. I believe it’s this constant exploration of morality that attracts us to fairy tales, and the ability to reinterpret the simple battle of good and evil to modern times. And the battle is universal, as it’s clear that all countries have their own fairy tales, and many countries have their own versions of the same fairy tale.
In fairy tales, even the old and trusted ones, there are still lessons to be learned. No matter what your age. No matter which country you come from.
What’s your favourite fairy tale?