Daniel Koehn: From The Fantastic Imagination

I would like to submit this passage from The Fantastic Imagination:

"Suppose my child ask me what the fairy tale means, what am I to say?"

If you do not know what it means, what is easier than to say so? If you do see a meaning in it, there it is for you to give him. A genuine work of art must mean many things; the truer its art, the more things it will mean. If my drawing, on the other hand, is so far from being a work of art that it needs THIS IS A HORSE written under it, what can it matter that neither you nor your child should know what it means? It is there not so much to convey a meaning as to wake a meaning. If it do not even wake an interest, throw it aside. A meaning may be there, but it is not for you. If, again, you do not know a horse when you see it, the name written under it will not serve you much. At all events, the business of the painter is not to teach zoology.

MacDonald's dealing with the purpose and nature of fairy tales in this essay is masterful, and this suggestion of a work of art (?) so vague that it needs "This is a horse" written under it is hilarious.  A nice example of his sense of humor.  

Daniel Koehn