On Fairy Stories by JRR Tolkien (Excerpts)

J.R.R. TolkienCover of J.R.R. Tolkien

The ‘consolation’ of fairy-tales has another aspect than the imaginative satisfaction of ancient desires. Far more important is the Consolation of the Happy Ending. Almost I would venture to assert that all complete fairy-stories must have it. At least I would say that Tragedy is the true form of Drama, its highest function; but the opposite is true of Fairy-story. Since we do not appear to possess a word that expresses this opposite–I will call it Eucatastrophe. The eucatastrophic tale is the true form of fairy-tale, and its highest function.

The consolation of fairy-stories, the joy of the happy ending: or more correctly of the good catastrophe, the sudden joyous ‘turn’ (for there is no true end to any fairy tale): this joy, which is one of the things which fairy-stories can produce supremely well, is not essentially ‘escapist’, nor ‘fugitive’. In its fairy-tale–or other world–setting, it is a sudden and miraculous grace: never to be counted on to recur. It does not deny the existence of dyscatastrophe, of sorrow and failure; the possibility of these is necessary to the joy of deliverance; it denies (in the face of much evidence, if you will) universal final defeat and in so far is evangelium, giving a fleeting glimpse of Joy, Joy beyond the walls of the world, poignant as grief.

It is the mark of a good fairy-story, of the higher or more complete kind, that however wild its events, however fantastic or terrible the adventures, it can give to child or man that hears it, when the ‘turn’ comes, a catch of the breath, a beat and lifting of the heart, near to (or indeed accompanied by) tears, as keen as that given by any form of literary art, and having a peculiar quality.

The peculiar quality of…’joy’ in successful Fantasy can…be explained eas a sudden glimpse of the underlying reality or truth. It is not only a ‘consolation’ for the sorrow of this world, but a satisfaction, and an answer to that question, ‘Is it true?’ The answer to this question that I gave at first was (quite rightly): ‘If you have built your little world well, yes: it is true in that world.’ That is enough for the artist…But in the ‘eucatastrophe’ we see in a brief vision that the answer may be greater–it may be a far-off gleam or echo or evangelium in the real world.

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Frodo The Wise

Elijah Wood as Frodo in Peter Jackson's live-a...Image via Wikipedia"I don't think the Shadow gave life to the orcs, it only ruined them and twisted them." ~Frodo

And so it is with all evil. It cannot give life. It  twists, and distorts and slowly destroys with an eternal death.
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The Tolkien Professor

Photograph of the building at 20 Northmoor Roa...Image via Wikipedia
I am currently going through the lecture series of Dr Corey Olsen on the writings of JRR Tolkien. It's an incredible resource and a lot of fun.
Just punch the title above and you're a click away from a boatload of resources. Enough to fill up any elven boat.
You can click ITunes and download the lectures and listen at your leisure, which is what I've done.
Thank You Dr Corey!!!
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The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader - Trailer 1 - 1...

Gandalf Goes to the World Cup


On The Passing of Time

Orlando Bloom as Legolas in Peter Jackson's li...Image via Wikipedia

The passing seasons are but ripples ever repeated in the long long stream. ~LEGOLAS~

The 'immortality' of the Elves is a subject of endless fascination for the mortal races, usually motived by jealousy or a lack of understanding. Being uninhibited by old age and death, Men or Dwarves would finally achieve the scope to indulge in endless, productive action, but the Elves (especially those of the Third Age) have no such ambition. For them, reminiscing about and preserving the light and beauty of the Elder Days - fighting 'the long defeat' in Galadriel's words - is enough.
The multicultural nature of the Fellowship, and Sam's confusion over the length of their stay in Lorien, provides a rare context in which to discuss the Elvish perspective on time. Legolas obliges, and it is no surprise that his explanation is a string of proverbs.
Time does not tarry ever,
but change and growth is not in all things and places alike.

Yet beneath the Sun all things must wear to an end at last.

By David Rowe
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