Three Essays For the Creative Mind

If you enjoy roaming fantastic worlds and exploring the connections between fantasy and faith, I suggest reading these essays, all by brilliant men who influenced the fantasy genre in their own ways. Each offers a unique perspective on fantasy, imagination, art, or beauty, and their insights give much worth contemplating, even if you don’t agree on every point.

The Ethics of Elfland
by GK Chesterton

Chesterton talks of philosophical elements found in “Elfland” or fantasy worlds (the fairy tale genre specifically), the ethics conveyed in such stories, and how they connect with Christian theology.

A sample quote:
“I have explained that the fairy tales rounded in me two convictions; first, that this world is a wild and startling place, which might have been quite different, but which is quite delightful; second, that before this wildness and delight one may well be modest and submit to the queerest limitations of so queer a kindness.”

On Fairy Story (available in Tales from the Perilous Realm)
by JRR Tolkien

Tolkien discusses the nature of fairy story (fantasy), how it portrays truth and connects with innate human desires, and the way it echoes the ultimate joy (eucatastrophe) that occurred on this earth.

A sample quote:
“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 as sharp as swords.”

The Fantastic Imagination
by George MacDonald

MacDonald explores fairy tales, the relationship between truth and beauty, and the layers of meaning contained in works of art.

A sample quote:
“[A fairy tale] cannot help having some meaning; if it have proportion and harmony it has vitality, and vitality is truth. The beauty may be plainer in it than the truth, but without the truth the beauty could not be, and the fairytale would give no delight.”

If you read these (or have read them before), feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

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