The Princess in the Story

I never liked romances. Part of it was my family; except my Aunt Clara, all of my family members make fun of that genre of fiction. Yet part of it is the formulaic nature of those stories: the same hero and heroine meet, fall in love, marry… and usually there is lots of sex in between their falling in love and marrying in the book. For me there was always a sense of tediousness to what I imagined the average romance to be, encapsulated with the three short ones I read in that they each insisted the hero have the perfect butt… and yet there was a truer love story I liked, even more than Austen or the Brontë sisters: the fairy tale. I have not love exclusively loved “The Princess Who Flew Like a White Dove” or “The Donkey Cabbage”–both of which involve a beautiful girl, whether a princess or a witch’s daughter, and a dashing young man, a prince or a hunter. I mention these two stories because they were my two favorite fairy tales–in The Gem Fairy Tales–before I entered kindergarten. Well, there was also “The Little Snow Girl”–but that was a different kind of fairy tale that I might focus on another time; it didn’t include anything about romantic love.

When I was little it was the magic of the story that fascinated me. I think I share this with readers of The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings. Despite their ostensibly being sci-fi, I think Star Wars and Star Trek appeal to people for much the same reasons. The magic can be translated into sci-fi gadgets and instead of fairies or witches there could be aliens of different sorts. I admit, though: there is a kind of innocence in the fairy tale that even science fiction writers like H.G. Wells miss… but to see the connection, a person need only bare in mind that C.S. Lewis wrote both The Space Trilogy (early sci-fi) and The Chronicles of Narnia (children’s fantasy).

Anyway, I have always thrilled to fairy tales, and even (occasionally) books like Y.B. Yeats’ The Celtic Twilight or 1001 Nights Entertainment to children’s literature that closely mimicking the fantastic from The Tale of Despereaux to Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. I long to find the time to read Giambattista Basile, Giovanni Francesco Straparola and Giuseppe Pitre. I also long to read The Much Laden Ship; Tales of the Marvelous and News of the Strange; and The Ocean of Story. Yet I have so many projects… I never have time to pick them off my shelf… and yet there is a superficial similarity between Aladdin and Sleeping Beauty… and it is there belief in magic… the idea that there is something more to the world than its physical contours…

As a child it was not the Prince and Princess that fascinated me but the magic itself. I wanted to know where the fairies went after the story finished… I believe Tolkien had this curiosity, too… To step into a world where anything is possible… where The Wonderful Wizard of Oz holds hands with “Iron Hans.” I know–intellectually–that de Tocqueville said that democracies tended towards the fantastic in their arts in a way that destroyed their credibility in reality. Yet I can’t believe either that aristocratic cultures don’t have similar fictions or that such fictions are really evil…

The point of all this rambling is that as an adult I have finally discovered that I love the Prince and Princess, too… that perhaps they keep me going when love does not appear to be real in my life… I do have a man I am in love with… he is my Prince… but I don’t know if he is not beyond reach… and that is why I imagine myself as the Princess who he may someday adore… perhaps the love story has something to say to me after all… I still am too proud to read romance novels, but I have–among my things–my favorite childhood movie: Sleeping Beauty, the Disney film. I never find the real “Brier Rose” more moving than that film. So if my Prince ever does read this–and if he can find it in him to say more than a mere “Hello”–know that perhaps despite my love of “the good people” (as Y.B. Yeats claims the Irish peasants call the fairies)–you are the real point of that fairy tale I read as a girl… isn’t it odd to admit that in my forties? I think single women my age are supposed to be giving up on love.

Published by hadassahalderson

I am a professional author who lives in Wichita, KS. I went to Friends University and spent one year at Claremont Graduate University. My published work includes: The Bible According to Eve I-IV and Faust in Love.

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