05 December 2007
When I saw this article by novelist A.S. Byatt in the Guardian, the title made me think there could be a connection to The Spiderwick Chronicles (and it's 2008 film) in which fairies are not sweet little pixies, but mischievous--if not malicious--creatures. (Fans of the TV show Torchwood will remember the Small Worlds episode from the first series which also deals with the topic--probably the most disturbing episode of the lot, IMHO!) The article rambles a bit, including as it does a description of an exhibit currently on display in London, which I do not have any hope of seeing, and moving beyond its original premise of exploring the dark underworld of fairies and other fantastic beings. (In brief, the crux of the article is: fairies--not just for kids!) But there are many references to Peter Pan, The Wind in the Willows, and other classics of Children's Literature which grew out of an Edwardian reverence for childhood and more than a little distrust of a woman's civilizing hand. The article also flirted with ideas I've previously come across in the excellent Inventing Wonderland, by Jackie Wullschlager, all about the birth of fantasy in Children's Literature.
(BTW, the image above is called The Entomologist's Dream, by Edmund Dulac, one of the artists on display in the xhibit mentioned in the Byatt piece. Looks more like a nightmare than a dream, and succinctly represents the chaos associated with fairies.)