Sehnsucht Definition

Updated: 2019-01-03.

Sehnsucht describes “an unidentifiable longing or yearning, often for a place or home; missing a place far away that one can identify as their home.” Sehnsucht is a German word with no perfect or direct English translation.

In Jacky Bowring’s book A Field Guide to Melancholy, Jacky explains:

“The term for longing in German is Sehnsucht, combining a typically paradoxical melancholy mix of nostalgia and desire. CS Lewis adopted the word to express a form of spiritual longing throughout his life, from the works of Plato to a longing for God. The conundrum of Sehnsucht is further confounded as Lewis uses it synonymously with joy.”

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