Her humor was of the unsettling variety, that made it necessary to examine one's own received ideas. It was so very impolite, with its particular idiosyncratic feminism, its blend of the irreverent and the gothic, its dazzling linguistic intricacy and relish for imagery...It is uncomfortable to list to the iambic distych, to know you are identifying yourself as an outsider by what you say, that all the disguises in the wardrobe will never fix identity, all the voices in the repertory will not tell the complete story.
Ours is a highly individualized culture, with great faith in the work of art as a one-off, and the artist as an original, a godlike and inspired creator of unique one-offs. But fairy tales are not like that, nor are their makers. Who first invented meatballs? In what country? Is there a definitive recipe for potato soup? Think in terms of domestic arts. "This is how I make potato soup."In other words fairy tales live in the realm of the folk, of the collaborative, of women and fools and children and magic. I've seen a few bits of writing (supposedly very clever) recently, where people (mostly boys) examine very finely the mechanics of magic. Sometimes there is talk of what could happen, what couldn't happen, and what is real. This, of course, is very stupid indeed, as none of it is real. It's a fun parlor game to wonder how things work, but I've so often seen these sorts of writing serve as a denial or a cursory dismissal of the fictional magical or divine. It's all fiction. The ordinary workaday waiter or firefighter or coal miner could just as easily sprout wings and fly away. The realms of the literal might be more real, but I very much doubt they are more true. Literal mindedness in the face of fictional magic is the province of petty minds.