Monday, September 20, 2004

Puddleglum's Bravery

The Prince and the two children were standing with their heads hung down, their cheeks flushed, their eyes half closed; the strength all gone from them; the enchantment almost complete. But Puddleglum, desperately gathering all his strength, walked over to the fire. Then he did a very brave thing. He knew it wouldn't hurt him quite as much as it would hurt a human; for his feet (which were bare) were webbed and hard and coldblooded like a duck's. But he knew it would hurt him badly enough; and so it did. With his bare foot he stamped on the fire, grinding a large part of it into ashes on the flat hearth. And three things happened at once.

First, the sweet heavy smell grew very much less. For though the whole fire had not been put out, a good bit of it had, and what remained smelled very largely of burnt Marshwiggle, which is not at all an enchanting smell. This instantly made everyone's brain far clearer. The Prince and the children held up their heads again and opened their eyes.

Secondly, the Witch, in a loud, terrible voice, utterly different from all the sweet tones she had been using up till now, called out, "What are you doing? Dare to touch my fire again, mud-filth, and I'll turn the blood to fire inside your veins."

Thirdly, the pain itself made Puddleglum's head for a moment perfectly clear and he knew exactly what he really thought. There is nothing like a good shock of pain for dissolving certain kinds of magic. "One word, Ma'am," he said, coming back from the fire; limping, because of the pain. "One word. All you've been saying is quite right, I shouldn't wonder. I'm a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won't deny any of what you said. But there's one thing more to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things - trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that's a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We're just babies making up a game, if you're right. But four babies playing a game can make a playworld which licks your real world hollow. That's why I'm going to stand by the play-world. I'm on Aslan's side even if there isn't any Aslan to lead it. I'm going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn't any Narnia. So, thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we're leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that's a small loss if the world's as dull a place as you say."
~C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair, Chapter 12: The Queen of Underland



Watch an EBay auction in progress for a very rare first edition of
The Silver Chair here.

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On this day:

1926: Dymer is published by J.M. Dent, London, under the pseudonym of Clive Hamilton.

1942: C.S. Lewis delivers the first of nine talks on "Christian Behavior" over the BBC. These talks are later expanded and become Book 3 of Mere Christianity.

6 Comment(s):

At Mon Sep 20, 12:56:00 PM EST, Blogger Arevanye said...

In A Field Guide to Narnia, author Colin Duriez has this to say about the character of Puddleglum:

"The name is inspired by an old translation Lewis found of Euripides' Hippolytus, which included the prase, "stygian puddle glum" (John Studley's sixteenth-century translation of "Tacitae Stygis,"1.625). Lewis reproduces the phrase in his English Literature in the Sixteenth Century, (p. 256)."

In Companion to Narnia, author Paul Ford talks about the passage I quoted:

"When he breaks the witch's spell and she shrieks at him, clearing his head, he is able to assert that though Narnia and Aslan may not exist, "the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones." This assertion is so strikingly similar to the conclusion of Lewis's essay "The Obstinacy of Belief," written at around the same time, that one cannot escape the conclusion that Lewis means Puddleglum to be a figure of the way in which Christians adhere to their faith after it has been formed."

 
At Mon Sep 20, 03:24:00 PM EST, Blogger Joelle said...

I love Puddlglum! My favorite character, by far.

*Checks wallet...sees if she can afford ebay Silver Chair..a single dollar bill falls out*

 
At Mon Sep 20, 05:51:00 PM EST, Blogger Arevanye said...

Did you see the condition that book was in? I wonder what a mint condition first edition goes for?

 
At Mon Sep 20, 06:00:00 PM EST, Blogger Joelle said...

Probably about the same as a car

 
At Tue Sep 21, 07:54:00 AM EST, Blogger Sandicomm said...

Puddles is very much a skeptic isn't he? But as for his monologue, I think it speaks for itself. The world of imagination or fairy (aka Heaven) is much nicer than our own.

 
At Tue Sep 21, 10:21:00 AM EST, Blogger Arevanye said...

"The world of imagination or fairy (aka Heaven) is much nicer than our own."

And wouldn't that be just like the evil forces in the world to convince us otherwise--that this is the only place and there is no heaven.

 

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