Fairy stories

I’m in grad school and working now. Homère is doing different shifts every month on his training rotation. (Clearly I haven’t updated this blog in forever.) Our house is usually a mess, and I have a long list of household tasks and homework assignments that need attention. So what did I spend my fall break doing? Yep, you guessed it: re-reading Harry Potter.

How does a grown woman still cry when Gryffindor wins the house cup because Neville tried to stop his friends from leaving the common room? I don’t know. This is just the first book, people. Not super emotional stuff. But it totally happened.

And the wonder of it all has me thinking of J.R.R. Tolkien’s essay on fairy stories, and their “fleeting glimpse of Joy,” their foretaste of eternity:

“The consolation of fairy stories, the joy of the happy ending; or more correctly, the good catastrophe, the sudden, joyous “turn” (for there is no true end to a fairy tale); this joy, which is one of the things that fairy stories can produce supremely well, is not essentially escapist or fugitive. In it’s fairy tale or other world setting, it is a sudden and miraculous grace, never to be counted on to reoccur. It does not deny the existence of dyscatastrophe, or 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.”

(Image by N.C. Wyeth, because I am in love with his illustrations and his son’s paintings after a recent visit to the National Gallery of Art.)

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