Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Joy and Sorrow

For Tolkien, joy and grief were closely linked. He describes the eucatastrophe as producing " a fleeting glimpse of Joy, Joy beyond the walls of the world, poignant as grief." In a letter from 1944, he explains that "Christian joy" may be accompanied by tears, for it has an essential similarity to sorrow, drawing from a state "where Joy and Sorrow are at one, reconciled." For Tolkien, "eucatastrophic" joy originates from beyond creation and time, in the realm of the eternal. The sorrow of tragic legend draws from the same timeless reality as this joy. He expresses this in the Great Music, wherein Ilúvatar's theme relays an "immeasurable sorrow" revealed in beauty. Sorrow probes the deep truths of reality, capable of expressing the light of transcendental beauty.

Lisa Coutras, Tolkien's Theology of Beauty, Palgrave Macmillan (New York: 2016) pp. 152-153.