Wednesday, January 26, 2005

What's a "Eucatastrophe"?

“The peculiar quality of the ‘joy’ in successful Fantasy can thus be explained as 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?’ . . . . [I]n the ‘eucatastrophe’ we see in brief vision that the answer may be greater–-it may be a far-off gleam or echo of evangelium in the real world . . . .The Gospels contain a fairy-story, or a story of a larger kind which embraces all the essence of fairy-stories. They contain many marvels--peculiarly artistic, beautiful, and moving: ‘mythical’ in their perfect, self-contained significance; and among the marvels is the greatest and most complete conceivable eucatastrophe. But this story has entered History and the primary world; the desire and aspiration of sub-creation [those who write and enjoy fanatasy literature] has been raised to the fulfillment of Creation.
The Birth of Christ is the eucatastrophe of Man’s history. The Resurrection is the eucatastrophe of the story of the Incarnation. This story begins and ends in joy. It has pre-eminently the ‘inner consistency of reality.' There is no tale ever told that men would rather find was true....But this story is supreme;and it is true. Art has been verified. God is the Lord, of angels, and of men--and of elves. Legend and History have met and fused."--J.R.R. Tolkien, Tree and Leaf, 88-89.


oldinthenew said...

Surprisingly the folks responsible for the film trilogy were ignorant of the concept of "eucatastrophe!" Take a look at the article posted at this URL:


dan said...

excellent site! Check out my eucatastrophe blog at

Josh said...

Dan, glad to see you've checked out my humble beginnings here. Kudos to your blog, as well. We have so much in common it's kind of scary! I hope to join in some of your discussions.