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Episode Info: Today on The Literary Life podcast, we will be discussing J. R. R. Tolkien’s essay “On Fairy Stories“. Tune in again over the next two weeks as we continue the conversation with Tolkien’s short story “Leaf by Niggle“. Cindy, Angelina and Thomas are also excited to announce the second annual Back to School Online Conference, happening August 3-8, 2020. Register today at for access both live and later. Angelina sets the stage for this discussion by orienting us to the context for the essay by Tolkien as a critique of what is considered a fairy story. She points out the difference between cautionary tales like those by Charles Perrault and the German folk and fairy tales collected by the Grimm Brothers. Our hosts highlight Tolkien’s definition of true fairy stories, ones that take place in the “perilous realm” and involve a journey element. He critiques Andrew Lang as including many stories as fairy tale that are not truly fairy stories. They also discuss topics from the essay including sub-creation, magic and spells, suspension of disbelief, and children’s responses to fairy stories. Commonplace Quotes: One should forgive one’s enemies, but only after they are hanged. Heinrich Heine The German folk soul can again express itself. These flames do not only illuminate the final end of the old era. They also light up the new. Never before have the young men had so good a right to clean up the debris of the past. If the old men do not understand what is going on, let them grasp that we young men have gone and done it. The old goes up in flames. The new shall be fashioned from the flame of our hearts. Joseph Goebbles Human beings are not human doings. Nigel Goodwin Into My Heart an Air That Kills by A. E. Houseman Into my heart an air that kills From yon far country blows; What are those far remembered hills, What spires, what towns are those? That is the land of lost content, I see it shining plain, The happy highways where I went And cannot go again. Book List: (Amazon affiliate links) When Books Went to War by Molly Guptill Manning Culture Care by Makoto Fujimura Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum David Copperfield by Charles Dickens The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare Bandersnatch by Diana Pavlac Glyer The Company They Keep by Diana Pavlac Glyer Surprised by Joy by C. S. Lewis Til We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis Phantastes by George MacDonald Support The Literary Life: Become a patron of The Literary Life podcast as part of the “Friends and Fellows Community” on Patreon, and get some amazing bonus content! Thanks for your support! Connect with Us: You can find Angelina and Thomas at, on Instagram @angelinastanford, and on Facebook at Find Cindy at, on Instagram @cindy...
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