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Illumination at Randa

The discovery of the Art was a response to an initial doubt over ‘how and in which manner’ Llull ought to write the book that he had planned to compose. The Vita coetanea located the occurrence during a period of time devoted to contemplation on a mountain top, which tradition has identified as Randa, not far from the city of Majorca (Palma). The text of the narrative states: ‘the Lord suddenly illuminated his mind, giving him the form and method for writing the aforementioned book against the errors of the unbelievers’ (III, 14). The text adds that Ramon went straight away to an abbey and composed the book ‘calling it at first Ars major, and later on the Ars generalis’. The title of the work in which this first redaction of the Art took shape was the Ars compendiosa inveniendi veritatem (Brief Art of Finding the Truth).

If we bear in mind this narrative and the references Llull made to this event in his works, it is clear that he associated the discovery of the Art with a key moment, somewhere between intuition and a specific instance of divine grace; which does not prevent one from understanding this moment as the culminating point in a reflective, contemplative process of greater duration. The Book of Contemplation, in fact, seems to bear witness to this process.

Source: J. Gayà, “El descobriment de l’Art”, in Introducció, in R. Llull, Darrer llibre sobre la conquesta de Terra Santa (Barcelona: Proa, 2002), p. 16.