Stardust and The Return of Fairy Tales
For all of you who have not yet picked up any of his works, Neil Gaiman is a delightful writer with a thorough knowledge of mythology and who dashes his work with all matters of Chesterton quotations as well as humorous, though albeit dark, scenes of the fantastic. I myself first started reading Gaiman due to his dedication to G.K. Chesterton in Good Omens and even using GKC’s likeness in his Sandman comics. As a fan, I had the pleasure to see the adaptation of his novel Stardust and will recommend it to just about anyone. My main excitement for the film, however, is the work that men such as Gaiman are doing to restore Elfland to the world that so desperately needs it.
In “The Ethics of Elfland” from Chesterton’s Orthodoxy we learn that the common good and legends are closely intermingled in divine romance. The romance of Orthodoxy is to find the familiar mixed with the unfamiliar and often our first introduction to this is through the myths, legends, and fairy tales that were told to us for countless generations. Chesterton realized as he was searching for this romance that fairy tales had made him thankful, but he did not know to whom. “I had always felt life first as a story,” Chesterton tells us, “and if there is a story there is a story teller.” Though fundamentalists and RadTrad’s try to excuse stories of myth and magic as crafts of evil and demonic, I believe I stand with many when I state that it is only in these fantastic tales that a boy learns that there are consequences for selfishness, honor in virtue, and power in standing against evil. One of the reason’s I enjoy Gaiman, though his other more adult books have some dark and disturbing content, is because he brings us back to a world where magic has consequences, unlike with Harry Potter, and where the Chestertonian point rings true: “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”