Monday, October 24, 2011

SF&F Ingredients

One of the ideas I've been kicking around is a facts and trivia post, where I share with you some bit of science fiction or fantasy related (some items may be loosely related) research that I've come across. 

It could be facts, quotes or trivia about literature, mythology, movies, tropes, themes, games, art, superheros, history, an author, etc.  Can't decide if it is going to be a short, daily post or a weekly post, but we'll see how it goes.

Right now, I'm reading a lot from The Encyclopedia of Fantasy, which I wrote more about here, so there may be a few from entries from this tome that I share.

Without further ado, here's today's entry:


From The Encyclopedia of Fantasy by John Clute and John Grant:
Term coined by J.R.R. Tolkien in his essay "On Fairy-Stories" (1947) as an opposite of "Tragedy" to argue that the uplifting effect of FAIRYTALES - and thus of FANTASY in general - is the highest of its three functions (Recovery, Escape and Consolation).

noun, rare
a sudden and favourable resolution of events in a story; a happy ending.

Mid 20th century: said to have been coined by Tolkien

From the Tolkien Gateway, an excerpt from one of Tolkien's letters (makes me nostalgic for letters): 

"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, your whole nature chained in material cause and effect, the chain of death, feels a sudden relief as if a major limb out of joint had suddenly snapped back. It perceives – if the story has literary 'truth' on the second plane (....) – 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."
Letter 89


Read more about it: 
The Tolkien Gateway

Posted by Jennifer B. at The Writing Cocoon.  

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