Fairy Tales and the Second Half of Life
Review posted March 29, 2009.
Chiron Publications, Wilmette, Illinois, 1994. 203 pages.
I love Allan Chinen's collections of fairy tales. This volume deals with tales from all over the world that involve "elders" rather than the youthful protagonist going off to seek his fortune.
After presenting each fairy tale, he speaks as a psychiatrist about the insights the fairy tale gives us and the light it sheds on living the second half of life.
Fairy tales are full of wisdom. Allan Chinen helps you see how that wisdom can apply to your life. This is perfect for people like me who love symbols and images. It's fascinating how the same concepts come up in fairy tales from completely different parts of the world.
In most familiar fairy tales, the Prince and Princess battle against terrible enemies and survive overwhelming ordeals. Then they meet each other, marry, and live happily ever after. And surely true love and finding one's own kingdom represent symbolic goals for all individuals. But much more remains of life in the "ever after," and perhaps the most important: restoring innocence and wonder to a world that has forgotten them. That is the ultimate promise of elder tales, and their challenge -- infusing the magic of myth and childhood into real life.