Most people think of fairy tales as having been created anonymously and almost magically long ago, and later discovered and recorded by scholars such as the Brothers Grimm. In fact original fairy tales are still being written. Over the last century and a half many well-known authors have used the characters and settings and themes of traditional tales such as 'Cinderella', 'Hansel and Gretel', and 'Beauty and the Beast' to produce new and characteristic works of wonder and enchantment. The Oxford Book of Modern Fairy Tales brings together forty of the best of these stories by British and American writers from John Ruskin and Nathaniel Hawthorne to I.B. Singer and Angela Carter. These tales are full of princes and princesses, witches and dragons and talking animals, magic objects, evil spells, and unexpected endings. Some of their authors, like John Ruskin and Oscar Wilde, use the form to point a social or spiritual moral; others such as Jeanne Desy and Richard Kennedy, turn the traditional stories inside out to extraordinary effect. James Thurber, Bernard Malamud, and Donald Barthelme, among many others, bring the characters and plots of the traditional fairy tale into the contemporary world to make satiric comments on modern life. The literary skill, wit, and sophistication of these stories appeal to an adult audience, even though some of them were originally written for children. They include light-hearted comic fairy stories like Charles Dickens's 'The Magic Fishbone' and L.F. Baum's 'The Queen of Quok', thoughtful and often moving tales like Lord Dunsany's 'The Kith of the Elf Folk' and Philip K. Dick's 'The King of the Elves', and profoundly disturbing ones like Lucy Lane Clifford's 'The New Mother', and Ursula Le Guin's 'The Wife's Story'. Together they prove that the fairy tale is not only one of the most popular and enduring forms, but a significant and continually developing part of literature.
A neat quote from Hawthorne's tale: ... the scarecrow reminds me of some of the lukewarm and abortive characters, composed of heterogeneous materials, used for the thousandthe time, and never worth using, with which... writers (and myself, no doubt, among the rest), have so overpeopled the world of fiction."
And Pyle shares a zinger: "... nobody in the world can have more than contentment..."
Fairy tales, folklore, fables - all are still relevant, even valuable.
Reread May 2016, bewitched all over again. T.H. White mentions a dish, served in northern Sweden/ Lapland, that I want to try: "a thick sour-cream soup that was taken cold with pepper and sugar."
Mary de Morgan is an author I'm adding to my wishlist, but maybe only on Project Gutenberg or at universities? "