66 pages 2 hours read

Eoin Colfer

Artemis Fowl

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 2001

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Literary Context: Folklore and Fairies in Irish Literature

Colfer draws from a long tradition of Irish folklore for his worldbuilding in Artemis Fowl, painting his country as “the most magical place on the planet” (68).

In Irish folklore, fairies take their name from the grassy mounds characteristic of the Irish landscape. According to folklore, fairies are thought to live underneath the mounds; in Colfer’s novel, fairies live underground as well. Colfer draws explicitly from Irish legend as his narration recounts the existence of the “ancient fairy race, the Dé Danann” and their battle “against the demon Fomorians, carving the famous Giants’ Causeway with the strength of their magical blasts” (69). The Tuatha Dé Danann refer to a real-life pantheon of Irish deities of the same name, who also battled the Fomorians and claimed Ireland for themselves from the demonic giants.

According to Irish folklore, few people are able to spot the fairies. Colfer further explains this idea in the novel: the Lower Elements Police ensure that humans are unaware of their existence by “mind-wiping” them if they do happen to come across one of “the People.” While fairies may exist in other places, the author connects Ireland explicitly to these sightings; in Ireland, “the Mud people were most in tune with magic, which resulted in a far higher People-sighting rate than you got anywhere else on the planet” (69).