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Saturday, February 09, 2008

Some quotes on joy: Tolkien, Lewis, and Le Guin

Pippin glanced in some wonder at the face now close beside his own, for the sound of that laugh had been gay and merry. Yet in the wizard's face he saw at first only lines of care and sorrow; though as he looked more intently he perceived that under all there was a great joy: a fountain of mirth enough to set a kingdom laughing, were it to gush forth. J. R. R. Tolkien, The Return of the King: Being the Third Part of The Lord of the Rings. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1963, p. 31.

From letter 89 by Tolkien:
"... I coined the word 'eucatastrophe': the sudden happy turn in a story which pierces you with a joy that brings tears (which I argued it is the highest function of fairy stories to produce). And I was there led to the view that it produces its peculiar effect because it is a sudden glimpse of truth.... It perceives-- if the story has literary 'truth'...--that this is indeed how things really do work in the Great World for which our nature is made. And I concluded by saying that the Resurrection was the greatest 'eucatastrophe' possible in the greatest fairy story-- and produces that essential emotion: Christian joy which produces tears because it is qualitatively so like sorrow, because it comes from those places where Joy and Sorrow are at one, reconciled, as selfishness and altruism are lost in Love..."

All joy (as distinct from mere pleasure, still more amusement) emphasises our pilgrim status; always reminds, beckons, awakens desire. Our best havings are wantings.
~C.S. Lewis, Letters, (Letter of November 5, 1959)

There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done." All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened.'
~C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce, Chapter 9 (1946)

Happiness has to do with reason, and only reason earns it. What I was given was the thing you can't earn, and can't keep, and often don't even recognize at the time; I mean joy. Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness (New York: Ace, 1969) p. 228.

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On September 4, 2010, I'm adding this:

Yet hints come to me from the realm unknown;
Airs drift across the twilight border land,
Odoured with life; and as from some far strand
Sea-murmured, whispers to my heart are blown
That fill me with a joy I cannot speak . . .
George MacDonald, A Book of Strife in the form of the Diary of an Old Soul, entry for May 29. (public domain)



May you, and I, find eternal joy!

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