Monday, November 07, 2005

Sweat is Better Than Philosophy

"As well, it would be a hundred shames not to train anyone who has such a gift for the sport as you look like having."

"No," said I. "Leave me alone. Unless we can use sharps and you would kill me."

"That's women's talk, by your favour. You'd never say that again once you'd seen it done. Come. I'll not leave off till you do."

A big, kindly man, some years older than herself, can usually persuade even a sad and sullen girl. In the end I rose and went with him.

"That shield is too heavy," he said. "Here's the one for you. Slip it on, thus. And understand from the outset; your shield is a weapon, not a wall. You're fighting with it every bit as much as your sword. Watch me, now. You see the way I twist my shield--make it flicker like a butterfly. There'd be arrows and spears and sword points flying off it in every direction if we were in a hot engagement. Now: here's your sword. No, not like that. You want to grip it firm, but light. It's not a wild animal that's trying to run away from you. That's better. Now, your left foot forward. And don't look at my face, look at my sword. It isn't my face is going to fight you. And now, I'll show you a few guards."

He kept me at it for a full half-hour. It was the hardest work I'd ever done, and while it lasted, one could think of nothing else. I said not long before that work and weakness are comforters. But sweat is the kindest creature of the three--far better than philosophy, as a cure for ill thoughts.
~C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces, Chapter Nine (1956)

2 Comment(s):

At Mon Nov 07, 11:40:00 PM EST, Blogger MrKimi said...

Lewis manages to write so authoritively about sword fighting but as far as I know he never did any. Is this just his genius or was he a closet medievalist?

It's very convincing anyway. Mind you he's also writing about a teenage girl's feelings very convincingly and I'm sure he never was one.:)

At Wed Nov 09, 07:19:00 AM EST, Blogger Arevanye said...

I think that one of his biographers referred to Lewis as 'one of the most well-read men of his generation'. And he did write "The Discarded Image", which is a study of medieval literature. So it's probably safe to say that he must have read about swordfighting somewhere!

I do marvel at Lewis's ability to convincingly portray the mind of a young girl like he does. Could any of his contemporaries have done the same?


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