“This story begins and ends in joy” by J.R.R. Tolkien

“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, and none which so many skeptical men have accepted as true on its own merits. For the Art of it has the supremely convincing tone of Primary Art, that is, of Creation. To reject it leads either to sadness or to wrath.

It is not difficult to imagine the peculiar excitement and joy that one would feel, if any specially beautiful fairy-story were found to be ‘primarily’ true, its narrative to be history, without thereby necessarily losing the mythical or allegorical significance that it had possessed.

It is not difficult, for one is not called upon to try and conceive anything of a quality unknown. The joy would have exactly the same quality, if not the same degree, as the joy which the ‘turn’ in a fairy-story gives: such joy has the very taste of primary truth…

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. But in God’s kingdom the presence of the greatest does not depress the small. Redeemed Man is still man.

Story, fantasy, still go on, and should go on. The Evangelium has not abrogated legends; it has hallowed them, especially the ‘happy ending.’”

–J.R.R. Tolkien, “On Fairy Stories,” ed. C.S. Lewis, Essays Presented to Charles Williams (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1947), 83-84.

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Filed under Christian Theology, J.R.R. Tolkien, Literature, Quotable Quotes, The Gospel, Worldview, Writing

2 responses to ““This story begins and ends in joy” by J.R.R. Tolkien

  1. i love this quote….i have been quoting sections all day, so i finally googled it to get a bigger section to tweet and found it here…thanks….

  2. g s morris esq

    Glad this section blessed you Landon. This essay and its Epilogue are some of the most important words written in the 20th Century, imho. They come as close to putting in brief and simple terms the way life works in the Kingdom of God Jesus instituted. Thank you for posting Tolle Lege.

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