I believe I wrote some time back that I plan to put together a collection of stories: Fraud on the Fairies. The Introduction will speak about how Charles Dickens wrote of the intellectual didacticism which destroys children’s literature, in particular Fairy Tales. It was a small journalistic piece, “Fraud on the Fairies” from which my book of fairy tales takes its name. I also believe that in the wrong hands, children’s stories can be drab, mediocre writing which destroys the element of childlike lightness which works for fantasy should contain. Of course, I am ashamed to admit that my Fraud on the Fairies (like my Oz Revisited) is for adults, and only partly written. The themes and language are too much in the “adult” realm to appeal to children.
Today I rewrote the story “Vasilisa the Beautiful” for Fraud on the Fairies. The trick to my story is that I tell mostly traditional stories (including ones not well known and from other cultures), from a nontraditional point of view. That is why “Vasilisa the Beautiful” becomes “Vasilisa’s Doll,” told by the doll. Of course, I am old-fashioned square enough that just as the Evil Queen in “Mirror of Jealousy” (Snow White and the Seven Dwarves), Vasilisa remains the “good” character and her stepmother and stepsisters the bad. It is only that the story is told from a different personality’s point of view: the doll describes, for instance, how she was made, and the Evil Queen Silvia is described in how she discovers her magic mirror.
In Fraud on the Fairies, I attempt to prove than fantasy is as necessary for adults as it is for children. Of course, Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night Dreams and Dickens’ A Christmas Carol are examples of “adult” writing using the fey folk for mature purposes. Yet in recent times, works of fantasy tend to be either for children or works of popular fiction–as opposed to “literature.” This lamentable fact keeps books like J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings from being considered on the level of “great literature” to many “serious” teachers and students of fiction. Though my Fraud on the Fairies is for adults, I believe it can appeal to “the kid in you” in the words of the inimitable Johnathan Winters in Winter’s Tales (which had little to do with folklore and I admit appeals to a very few). I can only sometimes–I think Jeanie and the Gentlefolk (also unfinished) will–portray the world through a child’s eyes as children’s fiction, but perhaps for adults I can bring back that nostalgic glow of hearing their favorite fairy tale for the first time.