It is a property of works of genius that, even when they represent vividly the nothingness of things, even when they clearly show and make you feel the inevitable unhappiness of life, even when they express the most terrible despair, nevertheless to a great soul that finds itself in a state of extreme dejection, disenchantment, nothingness, boredom and discouragement about life, or in the most bitter and deathly misfortune (whether on account of lofty, powerful passions or something else), such works always bring consolation, [260] and rekindle enthusiasm and, though they treat and represent nothing but death, they restore, albeit momentarily, the life that it had lost. And so, while that which is seen in the reality of things grieves and kills the soul, when seen in imitation or any other form in works of genius (e.g., in lyric poetry, which is not, properly speaking, imitation), it opens and revives the heart. In fact, just as the author who described and felt so powerfully the vanity of illusions, but still preserved a great fund of them and gave ample proof of this by conveying their vanity so accurately (see pp. 214–15), in the same way, the reader, however disillusioned both about himself and about what he reads, is yet drawn by the author into the same deception and illusion that he experienced and that are hidden in the most intimate recesses of his spirit. And the recognition of the irredeemable vanity and falsity of all beauty and all greatness is itself a kind of beauty and greatness that fills the soul when it is conveyed by a work of genius. from Zibaldone