Recently I read Travellers in Magic, an anthology of stories by Lisa Goldstein. In the author’s notes after the first story, "Alfred", she comments:
In another sense, of course, "Alfred" is not wish fulfillment at all. It’s about the healing power of history and family and imagination.
Well. I read that and thought, "Give me a break! The healing power of history? What’s that supposed to mean?" But I thought about it some more, and I realized that, no, it made perfect sense. History tells us that, no matter how great our difficulties, someone has overcome them before. No matter how high our goals, someone has achieved them before. No matter how deep our shame, someone has endured it before. "There is no new thing under the sun"--I always thought that was either meaningless or depressing; but actually it’s a blessing. It means we are not alone.