We’ve all experienced it, haven’t we? That dread that begins to creep up on you as you near the end of your favorite book or trilogy. You start to read slowly instead of quickly because you don’t want to turn the page when there are so few left. So instead, you pause, reread a certain phrase, stop in a moment because you know that all too soon, you will have to say goodbye to these characters.
As a reward for finishing my manuscript, I took this weekend to reread an older series that I only ever read once back in middle school. The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini follows a young farmer boy named Eragon who is thrust into a world of magic, love, politics, and danger when he encounters a dragon egg in the Spine. His story spans four books, over 3,000+ pages. Maybe you have heard of this brilliant series?
Paolini wrote the first books while still in his teens. Paolini was one of the first authors who inspired me during my youth that age was not a deterrent to becoming a great author. Regardless of his youth, Paolini self-published Eragon and spent a year promoting his own work until it was picked up and re-published traditionally.
These past four days, I lost myself in pages that I remembered whimsically and was able to digest the story in a whole new light. There were things I had forgotten, or not understood back then, things I had taken for granted. Now as a story teller myself, I can image the pain-staking detail that went into Paolini’s work. Indeed, because of my own maturity, this time felt like the first time reading the series. As I sped through the pages, I endlessly devoured the old story until I suddenly realized I only had a few pages left. Suddenly I was terrified, I didn’t want the story to end (especially since I remembered how it ended).
But finished, I did.
And I was left with this overwhelming melancholy, this feeling that I had lost someone. In fact I had lost many someones and somethings: I lost the opportunity to ever ride on the back of Saphire with Eragon, I lost the ability to walk through Ellesmera with Ayra, I never got the chance to see Murtaugh happy or Roran rebuild his home with his family. Of course I can always reread, but there is something lost after that initial read, after the first time that you truly understand a series. I’ve searched online for a word that adequately describes how an individual feels after finishing a book and most refer to it as “Post-Book Depression,” which is mostly accurate. But not entirely, as I was not only sad but happy and also longing for more…
Instead of saying that I had Post-Book Depression, I propose a new word: Saudade.
It is a Portuguese folk word that is practically untranslatable in most languages. But generally it means:
A deep emotional state of melancholic longing for someone or something that is absent.
Indeed, this word helps describe how I feel every time I come to the ending of something beautiful. The characters that I read in every book are not only characters to me. They are alive in my imagination, teaching me, directing me, warning me, instructing me, encouraging me. It is the characters that stay, long after the words fade.
Do you too suffer from Saudade after finishing a new book or series?
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