But suppose a man were born in a modern prison, and grew accustomed to the deadly silence and the disgusting indifference; and suppose he were then suddenly turned loose upon the life and laughter of Fleet Street.
He would, of course, think that the literary men in Fleet Street were a free and happy race; yet how sadly, how ironically, is this the reverse of the case!
This article was co-authored by Stephanie Wong Ken.
Stephanie Wong Ken holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Portland State University.
If you really read the fairy-tales, you will observe that one idea runs from one end of them to the other - the idea that peace and happiness can only exist on some condition.
This idea, which is the core of ethics, is the core of the nursery-tales.Now, it is obvious that there are many philosophical and religious ideas akin to or symbolised by this; but it is not with them I wish to deal here.It is surely obvious that all ethics ought to be taught to this fairy-tale tune; that, if one does the thing forbidden, one imperils all the things provided.Instead of finding (like common books of ethics) a rationalistic basis for each Commandment, they find the great mystical basis for all Commandments.We are in this fairyland on sufferance; it is not for us to quarrel with the conditions under which we enjoy this wild vision of the world.We may not see the direct logical connection between three beautiful silver spoons and a large ugly policeman; but then who in fairy tales ever could see the direct logical connection between three bears and a giant, or between a rose and a roaring beast? Not only can these fairy-tales be enjoyed because they are moral, but morality can be enjoyed because it puts us in fairyland, in a world at once of wonder and of war. A man and woman are put in a garden on condition that they do not eat one fruit: they eat it, and lose their joy in all the fruits of the earth.This great idea, then, is the backbone of all folk-lore - the idea that all happiness hangs on one thin veto; all positive joy depends on one negative.A girl may be the bride of the God of Love himself if she never tries to see him; she sees him, and he vanishes away.A girl is given a box on condition she does not open it; she opens it, and all the evils of this world rush out at her.