“Fair is foul, and foul is fair”
Witches in Macbeth.
One of the definitions of Oxford English Dictionary for the word “sad” is: affected with or expressive of grief or unhappiness. When in the dictionary, this feeling appears to be so rational and controlled but when we think about it and the way we experience this emotion, it could be deep and soul tearing or it could be more like having a fish bone stuck in your heart. It could also be almost imperceptible, like one of those days when you are not particularly cheerful and more in the blue side of your mood. The reasons? A never ending list that varies in importance that could include: a broken heart, the morning news, the departure of a loved one and also a book.
As you already know, there are some books which life wrenching plots bring you to tears, sometimes during the whole book, sometimes at the end of it. In several cases, you knew the story was a sad one beforehand, but in others, sadness strikes when you least expect: the main character of the story dies or something terrible happens that just leave you speechless and teary, even when the book has a happy ending. Nevertheless, you keep on reading because of the beauty of the story.
When I was very young I thought that the purpose of art in all forms, including literature, was to fill my soul with happiness. Later in life I learned that this wasn’t necessarily true and that the goal of a piece of art, in this case a book, wasn’t always linked to the elicitation of joy. I learned then that if I wanted to enjoy beauty in all forms, I shouldn’t be afraid of sadness.
Some examples of beautiful sad books are: