Amid the hundreds of books I’ve read over the years, certain scenes and passages linger in my memory. With little prompting I can bring them to recall, with all their attendant emotions–no matter how long it’s been since I read the book in question.
Of course the masters (Tolkien and Lewis) do this well, and they have many outstanding passages in their books. There’s the thrilling conclusion to The Last Battle, when all true Narnians arrive in Aslan’s country and explore unending marvels with the cry of “further up and further in.” Or the wonder of Lucy when she first steps through the wardrobe or the awe the children experience as they first encounter Aslan.
And what of the scene in Lord of the Rings that follows the destruction of the One Ring, when Frodo and Sam pass from seeming death to life? In this glorious life reborn they celebrate with joy, as Tolkien describes:
“And all the host laughed and wept, and in the midst of their merriment and tears the clear voice of the minstrel rose like silver and gold, and all men were hushed. And he sang to them, now in the elven-tongue, now in the speech of the West until their hearts, wounded with sweet words, overflowed, and their joy was like swords, and they passed in thought out to regions where pain and delight flow together and tears are the very wine of blessedness.”
Yet many besides the masters crafts scenes that take up residence in memory. In Monster in the Hollows, the concluding passage demonstrated the power of familial love and self-sacrifice in a way that engaged my emotions and will remain ever vivid in my mind.
And for very different reasons, Raven’s Ladder engaged me when storyteller Krawg shares a tale that he himself understands little, a recounting of the saga of the maker and the tricksters, and when this saga comes to fruition in The Ale Boy’s Feast with a grand display of otherwordly beauty.
What stands out about all these (and many others) has little to do with the style in which they’re written. It’s the meaning it conveys and the strong emotions it evokes, even years later, that makes a scene memorable. And passages of this sort, woven throughout a book, make for enduring fiction.
Are there scenes and passages that have resonated with you and remained favorites over time?
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