"The way to read a fairy tale is to throw yourself in." - W.H. Auden
Once upon a time there was a secret about fairy tales... Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and all the other princesses didn't have perfect lives, quite the opposite. Happy endings always appear on the last page. If the princess had everything, from the start, there would be no story to tell. Anyone with their imperfections and difficulties can become the main character of the story, of their own story. A childhood rich in fantasy and fairy tales can become a magical stepping stone through life, blasting your way through hardships and trials. The magic of fairy tales doesn't lie in a brief literary escape from reality, but in the gift of hope that good is indeed more powerful than evil and that even the darkest reality can lead to a happy ending (even if it not forever). And this gift of hope is fundamental, because it has the power to overcome despair in the midst of sadness, to light up the darkness in the lowest moments, to whisper “one more time” in the face of failure. Hope is what brings dreams to life, making the fairy tale a reality.
We live in dark times. Europe haunted by war, by the despair of devastation, by the lives that are lost every day, by the suffering, human and economic, global, in which we sink deeper and deeper. Never has hope and the ability to dream been so needed and urgent. For most of human history, literature (fiction or poetry) was narrated rather than written — heard and not read. Fairy tales, fables, legends, folk tales... are one of the most precious heritages that link us to the imagination of our ancestors. Regardless of space or time, fantasy and the need for magical universes is transversal to all human beings. No matter how grown up we are, we will always need to believe in magic.
“Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale”, wrote Hans Christian Andersen, “everything you look at can become a fairy tale and everything you touch can become a story.” I believe that each of us has our own magic wand, sometimes we just need to be reminded of it. And this issue is just that: proof that magic exists, and that the whole world needs it more and more.
Translated from the original on Vogue Portugal's The Fairy Tale issue, published may 2022.