Golden Key, Unfinished Introduction


  • Media: #Essays #Articles 2020
    • Author: [[!JRR Tolkien]]
    • From: B-Smith of Wootten Major
    • Status: read
    • Date: 2020-08-03
    • Tags: #fantasy #fairytale #shortstory #essay
    • Rating: ★★★★★
    • Idea richness: ★★★★★
    • Links: [B) On fairy stories]]

The unfinished introduction

Thoughts & Highlights

The best way to experience a story is with no preconceptions

  • [[!JRR Tolkien]] believed "reader and story should first meet face to face with no intermediary. There should be no one to interpret, or tell the reader what the story was about, or what to think of it."
  • ==Brilliant opening line: "DON’T READ THIS! Not yet.== This is a famous fairy tale. I hope you will like it. That is all that needs to be said, as an ‘introduction’: Reader meet the Golden Key."
  • "I never read what are called ‘introductions’ to tales, ‘fairy’ or not: long talks about the author or the story; and I do not think that anybody should. It is not fair to the author or to the reader. The author meant to speak direct to his reader, and did not want any one else to interfere, telling the reader to notice this or that, or to understand that or this, before the tale had even begun. ==You should be free to notice and like (or dislike) this and that for yourselves at first, without help or (very probably) hindrance."==
  • [[!JRR Tolkien]] suggests introductions should come second and be called "postlections or after-readings". They should be liked talks readers have with each other after finishing, rather than explaining or biasing anything up front.

Labels are packed with preconceptions

  • "Tales like the people who write them are not easy to label or be described by a single word. Earnest people (preachers for instance) can also be humorous; scientific people can and sometimes do write poetry and even fairy tales. ==Also you may even come to dislike certain labels, and avoid anything that has one of them attached to it: like sermon, or medicine, and say ‘not for me’ without even tasting first.=="
  • "...children are generally good judges of tales as tales: whether they carry you along and make you want to go on listening or reading."

Transportive experiences can change how we perceive time

  • "It is also true that in some actual experiences the time they take may seem short, and be found to be much longer when contact is made with ordinary affairs again. This occurs especially after absorption (mainly of intense interest and also usually pleasure) in some such things as reading, seeing plays, revelry or meetings with friends."
  • See also [[!Transportation Theory]]

Fairy stories are not about fairies

  • In B-On fairy stories, [[!JRR Tolkien]] points out that fairy tales are not about fairies but “the adventures of men in the Perilous Realm or upon its shadowy marches”.
  • "The love of Faery is the love of love: a relationship towards all things, animate and inanimate, which includes love and respect, and removes or modifies the spirit of possession and domination."
  • =="Faery represents at its weakest a breaking out (at least in mind) from the iron ring of the familiar"==
  • "...this ‘Faery’ is as necessary for the health and complete functioning of the Human as is sunlight for physical life: sunlight as distinguished from the soil, say, though it in fact permeates and modifies even that."
  • ==Faery as imagination== - Faery is not a creature or thing but magic or imagination as a whole. It encompasses everything from that realm of imagination.