How to Age Well: Two Examples from Literature

1. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky:

“Although Pulcheria Alexandrovna was forty-three, her face still retained traces of her former beauty; she looked much younger than her age, indeed which is almost always the case with women who retain serenity of spirit, sensitiveness and pure sincere warmth of heart to old age. We may add in parentheses that to preserve all this is the only means of retaining beauty to old age.”

2. Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card:

“Ender looked at her face, beginning to wrinkle enough that someone more critical than he might call her old. Still, there was laughter in her smile and a vigor in her eyes that made her seem much younger, even younger than Ender.”

In his book The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard gives a Christian perspective on aging well and inner beauty:

“Nature provides its own beauty to all of God’s creations. To try to be beautiful in terms of physical things never succeeds. And without the inner beauty of the soul, beauty is simply garish. “Like a gold ring in a pig’s nose,” the proverb says, “is a gorgeous woman who lacks sense.” (Prov. 11:22) Some of the most beautiful people I have ever seen are elderly people whose souls shine so brightly their bodies are hardly visible: Dorothy Day, Malcolm Muggeridge, Agnes Sanford, Golda Meir, Ethel Waters, and on and on. And this beauty is not just for old people. The natural beauty of the human being is given from… [God’s] kingdom to every person who will receive it.”