So I am continuing my romp through Irwin's commentary to the Arabian Nights - although I really want to read a copy of The Ocean of the Rivers of Story- which apparently is the source of all stories. But I digress.
In my romp I found that fairy tales were considered part of the genre of the Arabian Nights - and were very much in fashion in 1600s Europe. The author speculates that these were stories were relegated to children's tales as tales of the fantastic were usurped by science fiction.
Today I suppose tales of the fantastic are usurped by magical realism. It is interesting to think though that much of literature is to satisfy this desire for surprise and wonder. We are normally taught in school that fiction imparts some sort of cultural norms - such as homeric heroism. Rather literature engages our desire for something beyond the real. Literature is metaphysics. Perhaps these days video games have replaced this fantabulism because even magical realist books are not quite fantastic enough. We definitely see strands of this in contemporary tv such as Lost and true blood. Sometimes, however, a simple rendering of the real, in all its absurdity, is fantastic (hence my continued obsession with tao lin).