Nerissa Keay
Nerissa Keay asked:

An accomplished and absorbing read. But is it okay to love beautiful things? Or rather, is it a worthy goal?

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Charles Shepherd Great question, I think this question is what makes this book Dickensian. I definitely thinK Tartt is saying it's okay to love art/artistry/beauty through the eye of the beholder, while at the same time saying that that love is an intagible thing. Thus all of the hype around beauty in our society is pointless.
Pixellle An interesting question. At the end of the book, Theo rejects the notion that, in life, the journey makes it all worthwhile; he rejects the trope that joy can be found in appreciation of the small everyday beauty of nature; and he rejects the idea that the struggle and transitory nature of life adds to its value. Yet he speaks of how "his" painting touched him, and it wasn't because it was a "famous" painting. He speaks of the very personal and intimate relationship he had with this painting; different from anyone else's relationship with it.

He rejects the notion of the dichotomy of good/bad, and asks whether bad motives can lead to good results and vice versa. He embraces the ambiguity and seems to decide to forgive himself, even as he claims to find no redeeming value in living. Methinks possibly he doth protest too much about this, as he hints about Pippa. I'd love to imagine good things happening to Theo, but he'd have to imagine it, and believe it, first. i'm not sure if that's possible for him.

So, according to the book, is it "okay to love beautiful things"? Absolutely! I think of both Pippa and the painting first -- two things that Theo mostly only thought he "had" when most of the time he really did not, yet they both affected him profoundly. I think of Hobie and his love and relationship to fine old furniture; and I even think of Hobie himself as a "beautiful thing."

Me, personally, I think loving beautiful things is one of the best pleasures of life, but especially loving beautiful things that are free, like nature, or surround us every day, like mundane objects, or most of all, loving people because they're beautiful, and not because of how they look. If we never stop to appreciate the amazing show that surrounds us every day, how can we appreciate it enough? We only get one go-around; I want to appreciate the hell out of it.
Hilary Donovan I think there are many worthy goals in life. If "loving beautiful things" means that you buy expensive art even though you have to go into debt to do this, no, it's not a worthy goal. If you can love beautiful things and still make people a priority, you're doing all right.
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