I was struck by the headline recently that 500 fairy tales were discovered in Germany. The first thing it made me think of was what our literature would look like today if those fairy tales had never gone undiscovered. The second thing it made me think of is what would 500 undiscovered fairy tales of today look like 150 years from now?
I wrote in a previous post about bearing witness, a powerful concept well-described by Alex Kotlowitz. Fairy tales are a type of bearing witness, even though they might not be immediately recognizable. Fairy tales persist because they are stories that help us define ourselves. They also help us to make sense of our world. This is why they're so popular with a young audience. But we never stop trying to understand the world around us, so fairy tales are told over and over again in different forms. For example, there are two versions of Snow White in movie theaters right now. And two network shows are based in fairy tales (Grimm and Once Upon a Time).
I've tried my hand at writing a fairy tale, and it is fun. There's a rich tradition to draw from but the stories stay relevant, so playing with them or pulling them into the present day works easily.
What modern-day fairy tales will we still be talking about 150 years from now?