Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Eucatastrophe

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). It refers to the final "turn" of a plot which gives rise to "a piercing glimpse of joy, and heart's desire, that for a moment passes outside the frame, rends indeed the very web of story". Insofar as the essay remains central to theoretical accounts of fantasy, the term has become an important element of the genre's critical discourse. [BS]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.