Thursday, December 5, 2013

Have Hope

I found a new word some weeks ago. Eucatastrophe. It was coined by J.R.R. Tolkien. It's that turn near the end of a dark tale where everything is set to right. I'd like to think we're there with this mystery. And, for the moment, I will hope I am right.

Anyway, this tale needs a little hope. And a little more adventure.

I'm getting on a plane and traveling to parts unknown to prove that Maura Murray is still alive.

And I'm on a literary bent, so let me leave you with this quote from Tolkein, on the nature of hope:

"But 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 otherworld—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.


  1. I hope you are right James. Good luck finding her (not meant sarcastically). I'll ask where you are flying to however I realize I probably won't get an answer. Won't she flee if she is alive and sees this?

  2. I hope that you're correct and I wish you the best of luck in this effort.

  3. James, can you give us a general idea of when you might be able to update?