Tolkien’s On Fairy Stories

“Fantasy is, in this sense I think, not a lower but a higher form of art. Indeed, the most nearly pure form and so, when achieved, the most potent.”

J. R. R. Tolkien

J. R. R. Tolkien is not only the author of “The Lord of the Rings” series of books, but is partly (we feel) responsible for the foundation and proliferation of the entire fantasy genre as we know it today. Tolkien’s expansive worlds of men, elves, hobbits (halflings) and orcs had an undeniable impact on the creators of the Dungeons & Dragons franchise, not to mention countless other book, film, videogame and other franchises. Not only did the stories based in Middle Earth help shape modern fantasy but Tolkien’s other works also helped to give credence to the genre as a whole. It’s hard for anyone to not respect the entire language Tolkien created but one of his lesser known works was his essay titled “On Fairy Stories”.

Primary and Secondary Worlds

“On Fairy Stories” is an essay that J. R. R. Tolkien presented as the Andrew Lang lecture at the University of St Andrews, Scotland, on 8 March 1939, discussing the fairy-story as a literary form. It has since been published (sometimes edited or abridged) various times but it’s core themes remain present. Tolkien posited fairy-stories are a type of story telling where we here in “the primary world, reality” attempt to see into or experience fantastical “secondary worlds“.

“Enchantment produces a secondary world into which designer and spectator can enter to the satisfaction of their senses while they are inside. But in it’s purity it is artistic in desire and purpose.”

J. R. R. Tolkien

So when creating content for this site, which focuses on providing helpful tools and resources for your real life and your gaming life, we saw fit to adopt the great Professor Tolkien’s view of these Primary and Secondary Worlds. We feel that focusing on your own mental and physical health are very important to be the best that you can be. We also know that making the most out of your gaming experiences can be a great boon to your emotional and may even spiritual wellbeing too. So for the sake of simplification, we will use this classification as the two main ‘categories’, as it where, of the types of content we share. Anytime we reference these worlds, we’ll point back to here for the inquisitive minds to discover, or be reminded, the continual impact that Tolkien has on our worlds today.

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