“When we step into the family, by the act of being born, we do step into a world which is incalculable, into a world which has its own strange laws, into a world which could do without us, into a world we have not made. In other words, when we step into the family we step into a fairy-tale.” –Heretics, CW, I, p.143 G.K. Chesterton
Well, this explains so much. In this, something Chesterton actually wrote, fairy-tales more oft than not are dark and scary things sort of like our navigation in life. Again, I write fantasy and it seems my compulsion to do so is something echoed through time.
I love the writings of Chesterton, and I especially love the quotes attributed to him that he never said. My favorite misquote of Chesterton is from the popular television show, Criminal Minds:
“Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”
Only he never said this. This wonderful quote is a reworking of the following from Chesterton’s work, Tremendous Trifles (1909)
Fairy Tales then, are not responsible for producing in children fear, or any of the shapes of fear; fairy tales do not give the child the idea of the evil or the ugly; that is in the child already, because it is in the world already. Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon. Exactly what the fairy tale does is this: it accustoms him for a series of clear pictures to the idea that these limitless terrors had a limit, that these shapeless enemies have enemies in the knights of God, that there is something in the universe more mystical than darkness, and stronger than strong fear.
- Tremendous Trifles (1909), XVII: “The Red Angel”