Monday, September 03, 2007

Fairy v. Faerie

I suppose I should explain why I use two different spellings for faerie. To me, they're two different things. 'Fairy' describes a Disneyish magical being, quite small, that is pretty and happy and beaming with light. They dance and fly and are really only useful as window dressing in stories I tell my daughter.

'Faerie' describes a being of ancient myth and eldritch magic. They are not happy all the time. They can be rather spiteful. They have no problem playing tricks on mortals that end up Very Badly for said mortals. I also refer to them as 'The Fae' when discussing them in general. This is intentionally done in order to make them sound a bit spookier. By giving them free will and potentially malevolent natures, they become much more interesting as story devices.

So that's why the two spellings. Maybe some day I'll also describe why I think gray and grey are two different colors.

1 comment:

Seren said...

You forgot an important distinction. The former are generally female. The latter can be of either gender.

One of the great works of English lit is Spenser's 'The Faerie Queene', an allegorical poem where Elizabethan England is depicted as 'Faerie Land' ruled by the 'Faerie Queene' (Elizabeth 1).

In common with King Arthur, the Faerie Queene's court attracts knights who undertake tasks of great derring-do to rid the land of evil and wickedness, usually in the form of fire-belching dragons, knights gone to the bad, and loathly ladies who attempt to seduce the knights with their beauty and fair words. Each knight represents a Christian virtue. The poem was written in support of Elizabeth's Protestant policy and against the alleged corruption of Roman Catholicism.

Much of it is brutal stuff, people are hacked to death on a pretty regular basis. It's enough to make ladies of a gentle disposition blench and feel sick to the stomach.

As for grey and gray, there's no doubt whatever that they are completely different colours.