Consolation Darwin. Supposedly for relaxation he read novels. But he had a requirement: they couldn't end sadly. If he happened on one, he flung it furiously in the fire. True or not – I gladly believe it. Roaming in his mind over so many times and places looking back on all the extinct species, such triumphs of strong over weak, so many tests of survival, sooner or later all in vain, that at least in fiction and its micro-scale he had a right to expect a happy ending. And so necessarily: sunrays behind a cloud, lovers together again, kin reconciled, doubts dissolved, faith rewarded, fortunes recovered, treasures dug up, neighbors regret their mulishness, good names restored, greed put to shame, old maids married to respectable ministers, schemers expelled to the other hemisphere, forgers of documents cast down the stairs, seducers of virgins hurrying to altars orphans taken in, widows embraced, pride humbled, wounds mended, prodigal sons invited to the table, the cup of bitterness poured into the sea, tissues wet with tears of reconciliation, universal singing and music-making, and the puppy Fido, lost already in the first chapter, let him run home again and bark joyfully.
Translation from the Polish by Michael A. White (2016)
Image: “Fight Between a Tiger and a Buffalo”, Henri Rousseau (1908), via Wikimedia Commons.