I am trying to figure out what the proper literary term would be for the following description.

In many books and films there is a theme where the world is or was full of magic and beauty and then that age ends and the following is more mundane.

Sometimes this is accompanied due to results of an evil event and other times just from the slow approaching of time.

An evil occurrence example could be something like in Star Wars: A New Hope, when Luke is in Kenobi's little house,

An elegant weapon for a more civilized time. For over a thousand generations the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic. Before the dark times, before the Empire.

An example of time could be in The Lord of the Rings at the end of the 3rd age (after the war of the ring). Most of the elves are either leaving or have left, Gandalf leaves, later into the age the Ents become..treeish, and the dwarves vanish from mans knowledge. All that is left is men.

So while Men flourish all the other races diminish. Theres even a scene in the movies where Frodo and Sam spy some wood elves leaving middle earth and Sam says,

I don't know why, but it makes me sad"

So my question is, what would a term for this..diminishing of magic, diversity, beauty, power be?

It's kind of like Nostalgia in a way, not sure what the best term would be..

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    It's a good question. One metaphor I like, where we can safely place all these miracles we don't see today, is the mists of history. Those mists were everywhere, surrounding, enveloping, and they get thicker the further back you go, preventing even the most piercing gaze from seeing all. They hid secrets and mysteries. So we need a word for the lifting of the mist, its slow but inevitable disappearance, leaving only a few tendrils in odd corners here and there today. But I have no such word, except perhaps demystification, in the double entendre sense. – Dan Bron May 21 '17 at 9:56
  • The term prelapsarian (referring to the Fall of Adam in Eve in Genesis) is sometimes used in this sense. It's a bit specific, but can be used metaphorically a bit more widely. Compare also Ye Goode Olde Days – Josh Friedlander May 21 '17 at 14:36
  • @JoshFriedlander Or a longer period which stretches to a few hundred years later, antediluvian. – Dan Bron May 21 '17 at 15:33
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    Well, that's also a biblical reference, but is it a positive one? I thought it just meant "old" or "long ago", in a pejorative sense; almost the opposite of what OP refers to. Compare here. – Josh Friedlander May 21 '17 at 15:37
  • @JoshFriedlander It does mean "long ago" but it itself it has no pejorative tones. It can and has been used pejoratively, but that's context-dependent. – Dan Bron May 21 '17 at 17:55

I would call this form of writing reminiscence. The tone is wistful, in that the writer or the character expressing the thought is wishing that things could have gone otherwise.

For example, something that Star Wars and Lord of the Rings have in common is their use of reminiscence to provide context for the actions of their main characters.

In a stronger and more personal form, you could call it using a flashback, or writing in retrospective style, but reminiscence is more associated with sadness.

  • I like this answer, I liked the word decay ...but your answer sounds better! – RubberDucky4444 May 30 '17 at 0:27

How about something like 'a darkening of times'? or ' a regressive period' 'regression'


The term my father would use (to describe the diminution of his own powers from previous heights) is decline.

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