Friday, September 30, 2005

Vanity, Thy Name is Andrew

We must now go back to Uncle Andrew. His poor old heart went pit-a-pat as he staggered down the attic stairs and he kept on dabbing at his forehead with a handkerchief. When he reached his bedroom, which was the floor below, he locked himself in. And the very first thing he did was to grope in his wardrobe for a bottle and a wine-glass which he always kept hidden there where Aunt Letty could not find them. He poured himself out a glassful of some nasty, grown-up drink and drank it off at one gulp. Then he drew a deep breath.

"Upon my word," he said to himself. "I'm dreadfully shaken. Most upsetting! And at my time of life!"

He poured out a second glass and drank it too; then he began to change his clothes. You have never seen such clothes, but I can remember them. He put on a very high, shiny, stiff collar of the sort that made you hold your chin up all the time. He put on a white waistcoat with a pattern on it and arranged his gold watch chain across the front. He put on his best frock-coat, the one he kept for weddings and funerals. He got out his best tall hat and polished it up. There was a vase of flowers (put there by Aunt Letty) on his dressing table; he took one and put it in his buttonhole. He took a clean handkerchief (a lovely one such as you couldn't buy today) out of the little lefthand drawer and put a few drops of scent on it. He took his eye-glass, with the thick black ribbon, and screwed it into his eye; then he looked at himself in the mirror.

Children have one kind of silliness, as you know, and grown-ups have another kind. At this moment Uncle Andrew was beginning to be silly in a very grown-up way. Now that the Witch was no longer in the same room with him he was quickly forgetting how she had frightened him and thinking more and more of her wonderful beauty. He kept on saying to himself, "A dem fine woman, sir, a dem fine woman. A superb creature." He had also somehow managed to forget that it was the children who had got hold of this "superb creature": he felt as if he himself by his Magic had called her out of unknown worlds.

"Andrew, my boy," he said to himself as he looked in the glass, "you're a devilish well preserved fellow for your age. A distinguished-looking man, sir."

You see, the foolish old man was actually beginning to imagine the Witch would fall in love with him. The two drinks probably had something to do with it, and so had his best clothes. But he was, in any case, as vain as a peacock; that was why he had become a Magician.
~C.S. Lewis, The Magician's Nephew (1955)


Note to the blog: I will be absent next week. My fellow blogger Bob will be providing you with your daily dose of C.S. Lewis. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Great Authors

What are the key words of modern criticism? Creative, with its opposite derivative; spontaneity, with its opposite convention; freedom, contrasted with rules. Great authors are innovators, pioneers, explorers; bad authors bunch in schools and follow models. Or again, great authors are always 'breaking fetters' and 'bursting bonds'. They have personality, they 'are themselves'. I do not know whether we often think out the implication of such language into a consistent philosophy; but we certainly have a general picture of bad work flowing from conformity and discipleship, and of good work bursting out from certain centres of explosive force--apparently self-generating force--which we call men of genius.

Now the New Testament has nothing at all to tell us of literature. I know that there are some who like to think of Our Lord Himself as a poet and cite the parables to support their view. I admit freely that to believe in the Incarnation at all is to believe that every mode of human excellence is implicit in His historical human character: poethood, of course, included. But if all had been developed, the limitations of a single human life would have been transcended and He would not have been a man; therefore all excellences save the spiritual remain in varying degrees implicit.
~C.S. Lewis, Christian Reflections, "Christianity and Culture", (1967)

On this day:

1940 The two war evacuees, who had been staying with J.R.R. Tolkien and his family, moved back to their homes. (Around the Year with C.S. Lewis and His Friends)

1961 A Grief Observed is published by Faber and Faber, London, under the pseudonym N.W. Clerk. (A Year with C.S. Lewis)

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

On Sehnsucht

Perhaps it has sometimes happened to you in a dream that someone says something which you don't understand but in the dream it feels as if it had some enormous meaning . . . a lovely meaning too lovely to put into words, which makes the dream so beautiful that you remember it all your life and are always wishing you could get into that dream again.
~C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, (1950)

All joy (as distinct from mere pleasure, still more amusement) emphasises our pilgrim status; always reminds, beckons, awakens desire. Our best havings are wantings.
~C.S. Lewis, Letters, (Letter of November 5, 1959)

... the quality of the real universe, the divine, magical, terrifying and ecstatic reality in which we all live . . . what I learned to love in Phantastes was goodness . . . The deception is all the other way round - in that prosaic moralism which confines goodness to the region of Law and Duty, which never lets us feel in our face the sweet air blowing from "the land of righteousness."
~C.S. Lewis, preface to George Macdonald: An Anthology, (1948)

We do not want merely to see beauty . . . We want something else which can hardly be put into words - to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it. That is why we have peopled air and earth and water with gods and goddesses, and nymphs and elves.
~C.S. Lewis, Transposition and Other Addresses, (1949)


On this day:

1931 Lewis returns to a belief "that Jesus Christ is the Son of God" while riding to Whipsnade Zoo in the sidecar of brother Warren's motorcycle.
(from A Year With C.S. Lewis)

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

We Are All a Bent Race

'So,' said Hyoi, 'we are hnakrapunti. This is what I have wanted all my life.'

At that moment Ransom was deafened by a loud sound--a perfectly familiar sound which was the last thing he expected to hear. It was a terrestrial, human and civilized sound; it was even European. It was the crack of an English rifle; and Hyoi, at his feet, was struggling to rise and gasping. There was blood on the white weed where he struggled. Ransom dropped on his knees beside him. The huge body of the hross was too heavy for him to turn round. Whin helped him.

'Hyoi, can you hear me?' said Ransom with his face close to the round seal-like head. 'Hyoi, it is through me that this has happened. It is the other hmana who have hit you, the bent two that brought me to Malacandra. They can throw death at a distance with a thing they have made. I should have told you. We are all a bent race. We have come here to bring evil on Malacandra. We are only half hnau--Hyoi...' His speech died away into the inarticulate. He did not know the words for 'forgive,' or 'shame,' or 'fault,' hardly the word for 'sorry.' He could only stare into Hyoi's distorted face in speechless guilt. But the hross seemed to understand. It was trying to say something, and Ransom laid his ear close to the working mouth. Hyoi's dulling eyes were fixed on his own, but the expression of the hross was not even now perfectly intelligible to him.[...]

Hyoi with his last breath had called him hnakra-slayer; that was forgiveness generous enough and with that he must be content.
~C.S. Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet, (1938)

Monday, September 26, 2005

The Demise of Preconceptions

My own experience in reading the Gospels was at one stage even more depressing than yours. Everyone told me that there I should find a figure whom I couldn't help loving. Well, I could. They told me I would find moral perfection--but one sees so very little of Him in ordinary situations that I couldn't make much of that either. Indeed some of His behaviour seemed to me open to criticism, e.g. accepting an invitation to dine with a Pharisee and then loading him with torrents of abuse.

Now the truth is, I think, that the sweetly-attractive-human-Jesus is a product of 19th century scepticism, produced by people who were ceasing to believe in His divinity but wanted to keep as much Christianity as they could. It is not what an unbeliever coming to the records with an open mind will (at first) find there. The first thing you find is that we are simply not invited to speak, to pass any moral judgement on Him, however favourable: it is is only too clear He is going to do whatever judging there is: it is we who are being judged, sometimes tenderly, sometimes with stunning severity, but always de haut en bas*. (Have you ever noticed that your imagination can hardly be forced to picture Him as shorter than yourself?)

The first real work of the Gospels on a fresh reader is, and ought to be, to raise very acutely the question, "Who or What is this?" For there is a good deal in the character which, unless He really is what He says He is, is not lovable or even tolerable. If He is, then of course it is another matter: nor will it then be surprising if much remains puzzling to the end. For if there is anything in Christianity, we are now approaching something which will never be fully comprehensible.

*"from high to low"

~C.S. Lewis, The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis: Volume II, Letter of March 26, 1940 to Mary Neylan

Friday, September 23, 2005

A Horse and Her Girl

[...] at last Bree said, "And now, Tarkheena, tell us your story. And don't hurry it - I'm feeling comfortable now."

Aravis immediately began, sitting quite still and using a rather different tone and style from her usual one. For in Calormen, story-telling (whether the stories are true or made up) is a thing you're taught, just as English boys and girls are taught essay-writing. The difference is that people want to hear the stories, whereas I never heard of anyone who wanted to read the essays.

"My name," said the girl at once, "is Aravis Tarkheena and I am the only daughter of Kidrash Tarkaan, the son of Rishti Tarkaan, the son of Kidrash Tarkaan, the son of Ilsombreh Tisroc, the son of Ardeeb Tisroc who was descended in a right line from the god Tash. My father is the lord of the province of Calavar and is one who has the right of standing on his feet in his shoes before the face of Tisroc himself (may he live for ever). My mother (on whom be the peace of the gods) is dead and my father has married another wife. One of my brothers has fallen in battle against the rebels in the far west and the other is a child. Now it came to pass that my father's wife, my step-mother, hated me, and the sun appeared dark in her eyes as long as I lived in my father's house. And so she persuaded my father to promise me in marriage to Ahoshta Tarkaan. Now this Ahoshta is of base birth, though in these latter years he has won the favour of the Tisroc (may he live for ever) by flattery and evil counsels, and is now made a Tarkaan and the lord of many cities and is likely to be chosen as the Grand Vizier when the present Grand Vizier dies. Moreover he is at least sixty years old and has a hump on his back and his face resembles that of an ape. Nevertheless my father, because of the wealth and power of this Ahoshta, and being persuaded by his wife, sent messengers offering me in marriage, and the offer was favourably accepted and Ahoshta sent word that he would marry me this very year at the time of high summer.

"When this news was brought to me the sun appeared dark in my eyes and I laid myself on my bed and wept for a day. But on the second day I rose up and washed my face and caused my mare Hwin to be saddled and took with me a sharp dagger which my brother had carried in the western wars and rode out alone. And when my father's house was out of sight and I was come to a green open place in a certain wood where there were no dwellings of men, I dismounted from Hwin my mare and took out the dagger. Then I parted my clothes where I thought the readiest way lay to my heart and I prayed to all thegods that as soon as I was dead I might find myself with my brother. After that I shut my eyes and my teeth and prepared to drive the dagger into my heart. But before I had done so, this mare spoke with the voice of one of the daughters of men and said, "O my mistress, do not by any means destroy yourself, for if you live you may yet have good fortune but all the dead are dead alike."

"I didn't say it half so well as that," muttered the mare.

"Hush, Ma'am, hush," said Bree, who was thoroughly enjoying the story. "She's telling it in the grand Calormene manner and no story-teller in a Tisroc's court could do it better. Pray go on, Tarkheena."
"When I heard the language of men uttered by my mare," continued Aravis, "I said to myself, the fear of death has disordered my reason and subjected me to delusions. And I became full of shame for none of my lineage ought to fear death more than the biting of a gnat. Therefore I addressed myself a second time to the stabbing, but Hwin came near to me and put her head in between me and the dagger and discoursed to me most excellent reasons and rebuked me as a mother rebukes her daughter. And now my wonder was so great that I forgot about killing myself and about Ahoshta and said, `O my mare, how have you learned to speak like one of the daughters of men?' And Hwin told me what is known to all this company, that in Narnia there are beasts that talk, and how she herself was stolen from thence when she was a little foal. She told me also of the woods and waters of Narnia and the castles and the great ships, till I said, `In the name of Tash and Azaroth and Zardeenah Lady of the Night, I have a great wish to be in that country of Narnia.' `O my mistress,' answered the mare, `if you were in Narnia you would be happy, for in that land no maiden is forced to marry against her will.'
~C.S. Lewis, The Horse and His Boy, (1954)


On this day:

1938 Out of the Silent Planet is published by The Bodley Head, London.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Spokes of a Wheel

What God cares about is not exactly our actions. What He cares about is that we should be creatures of a certain kind or quality--the kind of creatures He intended us to be--creatures related to Himself in a certain way. I do not add 'and related to one another in a certain way', because that is included: if you are right with Him you will inevitably be right with all your fellow-creatures, just as if all the spokes of a wheel are fitted rightly into the hub and the rim they are bound to be in the right positions to one another. And as long as a man is thinking of God as an examiner who has set him a sort of paper to do, or as the opposite party in a sort of bargain--as long as he is thinking of claims and counter-claims between himself and God--he is not yet in the right relation to Him. He is misunderstanding what he is and what God is. And he cannot get into the right relation until he has discovered the fact of our bankruptcy.

When I say 'discovered', I mean really discovered: not simply said it parrot-fashion. Of course, any child, if given a certain kind of religious education, will soon learn to say that we have nothing to offer to God that is not already His own and that we find ourselves failing to offer even that without keeping something back. But I am talking of really discovering this: really finding out by experience that it is true.
~C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, (1952)


On this day:

1952 C.S. Lewis was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Literature by LaVal University in Quebec.
(from Around the Year With C.S. Lewis and His Friends)

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A Coterie is a Self-Appointed Aristocracy

It will be obvious that the element of secession, of indifference or deafness (at least on some matters) to the voices of the outer world, is common to all Friendships, whether good, bad, or merely innocuous. Even if the common ground of the Friendship is nothing more momentous than stamp-collecting, the circle rightly and inevitably ignores the views of the millions who think it a silly occupation and of the thousands who have merely dabbled in it.[...]

A circle of Friends cannot of course oppress the outer world as a powerful social class can. But it is subject, on its own scale, to the same danger. It can come to treat as "outsiders" in a general (and derogatory) sense those who were quite properly outsiders for a particular purpose. Thus, like an aristocracy, it can create around it a vacuum across which no voice will carry. The literary or artistic circle which began by discounting, perhaps rightly, the plain man's ideas about literature or art may come to discount equally his idea that they should pay their bills, cut their nails and behave civilly. Whatever faults the circle has--and no circle is without them--thus become incurable. But that is not all. The partial and defensible deafness was based on some kind of superiority--even if it were only a superior knowledge about stamps. The sense of superiority will then get itself attached to the total deafness. The group will disdain as well as ignore those outside it. It will, in effect, have turned itself into something very like a class. A coterie is a self-appointed aristocracy.
~C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves, "Friendship", (1960)


On this day:

1937 J.R.R. Tolkien published The Hobbit.

Cool link of the day: Shire Post Mint and Postal Service

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Infinity of Suffering

"I will not be Ungit," said I. I got up, shivering as with fever, from my bed and bolted the door. I took down my old sword, the very same that Bardia had taught me to use, and drew it. It looked such a happy thing ( and it was indeed a most true, perfect, fortunate blade) that tears came into my eyes. "Sword," said I, "you have had a happy life. You killed Argan. You saved Bardia. Now, for your masterpiece."

It was all foolishness, though. The sword was too heavy for me now. My grip--think of a veined, claw-like hand, skinny knuckles--was childish. I would never be able to strike home; and I had seen enough of wars to know what a feeble thrust would do. This way of ceasing to be Ungit was now too hard for me. I sat down--the cold, small, helpless thing I was--on the edge of my bed and thought again.

There must, whether the gods see it or not, be something great in the mortal soul. For suffering, it seems, is infinite, and our capacity without limit.
~C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces, (1956)


On this day:

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

1942 Lewis delivered the first of nine talks on "Christian Behavior" over BBC radio. These talks were later expanded and became Book Three of Mere Christianity.
(from A Year With C.S. Lewis)

Monday, September 19, 2005

Studying the Past

My studies in the XVIth century--you will remember my idea of a book about Erasmus--have carried me much further back than I anticipated. Indeed it is the curse and the fascination of literary history that there are no real beginnings. Take what point you will for the start of some new chapter in the mind and imaginations of man, and you will invariably find that it has always begun a bit earlier; or rather, it branches so imperceptibly out of something else that you're forced to go back to the something else. The only satisfactory opening for any study is the first chapter of Genesis.
~C.S. Lewis, The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis: Volume I, (Letter to his father March 31, 1928)

[...]Things we are all apt to say about the growth or development of a poet may often imply the negative that he wrote nothing except what has come down to us--which no one knows. We have not seen the contents of his waste paper basket. If we had, what now looks like an abrupt change in his manner from poem A to poem B might turn out not to have been abrupt at all.
~C.S. Lewis, Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories, "On Criticism" (1966)


On this day:

1914 Lewis (age fifteen) is sent to William T. Kirkpatrick at Great Bookham, Surrey, to be tutored by him until March 1917. Kirkpatrick becomes the most influential teacher in Lewis's education.

1955 Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life is published by Geoffrey Bles, London.
(from A Year with C.S. Lewis)

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Rilian's Return

"Oh, if only we knew!" said Jill.

"I think we do know," said Puddleglum.

"Do you mean you think everything will come right if we do untie him?" said Scrubb.

"I don't know about that," said Puddleglum. "You see, Aslan didn't tell Pole what would happen. He only told her what to do. That fellow will be the death of us once he's up, I shouldn't wonder. But that doesn't let us off following the sign."

They all stood looking at one another with bright eyes. It was a sickening moment. "All right!" said Jill suddenly. "Let's get it over. Good-bye, everyone ...!" They all shook hands. The Knight was screaming by now; there was foam on his cheeks.

"Come on, Scrubb," said Puddleglum. He and Scrubb drew their swords and went over to the captive. "In the name of Aslan," they said and began methodically cutting the cords. The instant the prisoner was free, he crossed the room in a single bound, seized his own sword (which had been taken from him and laid on the table), and drew it.

"You first!" he cried and fell upon the silver chair. That must have been a good sword. The silver gave way before its edge like string, and in a moment a few twisted fragments, shining on the floor, were all that was left. But as the chair broke, there came from it a bright flash, a sound like small thunder, and (for one moment) a loathsome smell.

"Lie there, vile engine of sorcery," he said, "lest your mistress should ever use you for another victim." Then he turned and surveyed his rescuers; and the something wrong, whatever it was, had vanished from his face.

"What?" he cried, turning to Puddleglum. "Do I see before me a Marsh-wiggle - a real, live, honest, Narnian Marsh-wiggle?"

"Oh, so you have heard of Narnia after all?" said Jill.

"Had I forgotten it when I was under the spell?" asked the Knight. "Well, that and all other bedevilments are now over. You may well believe that I know Narnia, for I am Rilian, Prince of Narnia, and Caspian the great King is my father."
~C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair, (1953)

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Are Writers Born, Not Made?

One of the things that C.S. Lewis did at a very early age was invent his own imaginary world called Animal-Land, which evolved into the larger world of "Boxen". At seven years old, he had already written stories and histories involving the animal characters of this world--King Bunny, General Quicksteppe, and others. He even plotted out his nation's steamship routes and railway timetables. These writings have been published as Boxen: The Imaginary World of the Young C.S. Lewis, ed. Walter Hooper (1985). Here is a letter he wrote to his brother Warnie (who was away at boarding school) when he was eight - the spelling and punctuation are his:

My dear Warnie,

I am sorrey that I did not write to you before. At present Boxen is slightly convulsed. The news has just reached her that King Bunny is a prisoner. The colonists (who are of course the war party) are in a bad way: they dare scarcely leave their houses because of the mobs. In Tararo the Prussians and Boxonians are at fearful odds against each other and the natives.

Such were the states of affairs recently: but the able general Quicksteppe is taking steps for the rescue of King Bunny. (the news somewhat pacified the rioters.)

Your loving
brother Jacks.
~C.S. Lewis, The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis: Volume I, (letter c. 1906)

And at age nine:

My dear Warnie

Thank you very much for the post-cards I liked them, the herald was the nicest I think, dont you. Now that I have finished the play I am thinking of writeing a History of Mouse-land and I have even gon so far as to make up some of it, this is what I have made up.

Mouse-land had a very long stone-age during which time no great things tooke place it lasted from 55 BC to1212 and then king Bublich I began to reign, he was not a good king but he fought against yellow land. Bub II his son fought indai about the lantern act, died 1377 king Bunny came next.

Your loving
brother Jacks
~C.S. Lewis, The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis: Volume I, (letter of August 1907?)


On this day:

1952 The Voyage of the Dawn Treader was published by Geoffrey Bles, London.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Is it Really Kindness?

For about a hundred years we have so concentrated on one of the virtues--'kindness' or mercy--that most of us do not feel anything except kindness to be really good or anything but cruelty to be really bad. Such lopsided ethical developments are not uncommon, and other ages too have had their pet virtues and curious insensibilities. And if one virtue must be cultivated at the expense of all the rest, none has a higher claim than mercy--for every Christian must reject with detestation that covert propaganda for cruelty which tries to drive mercy out of the world by calling it names such as 'Humanitarianism' and 'Sentimentality'. The real trouble is that 'kindness' is a quality fatally easy to attribute to ourselves on quite inadequate grounds. Everyone feels benevolent if nothing happens to be annoying him at the moment. Thus a man easily comes to console himself for all his other vices by a conviction that 'his heart's in the right place' and 'he wouldn't hurt a fly', though in fact he has never made the slightest sacrifice for a fellow creature. We think we are kind when we are only happy: it is not so easy, on the same ground, to imagine oneself temperate, chaste, or humble.
~C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, (1940)


On this day:

1949 Lewis's poem "The Adam Unparadised" was published in Punch.
~Lindskoog, Around the Year with C.S. Lewis and his Friends, (1986)

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Across the Canyon by Moonlight

In the middle of the night he opened his eyes and saw the full moon, very large and low, shining at his window: and beside his bed stood a woman darkly clothed, who held up her hand for silence when he would have spoken.

'My name is Contemplation,' she said, 'and I am one of the daughters of Wisdom. You must rise and follow me.'

Then John rose and followed her out of the house on to the grassy lawn in the moonlight. She led him across it to its westward edge where the mountain began to rise under its cloak of forest. But as they came right up to the eaves of the forest he saw that there was a crack or crevasse in the earth between them and it, to which he could find no bottom, and though it was not very wide, it was too wide to jump.

'It is too wide a jump by day,' said the lady, 'but in the moonlight you can jump it.'

John felt no doubt of her and gathered himself together and leaped. His leap carried him further than he had intended--though he felt no surprise--and he found himself flying over the tree tops and the steep fields, and he never alighted till he reached the mountain top; and the Lady was there by his side.

'Come,' she said, 'we have still far to go.'

Then they went on together over hills and dales, very fast, in the moonlight, till they came to the edge of a cliff, and he looked down and saw the sea below him: and out in the sea lay the Island. And because it was moonlight and night John could not see it so well as he had sometimes seen it, but either for that reason, or for some other, it seemed to him the more real.

'When you have learned to fly further, we can leap from here right into the Island,' said the Lady. 'But for this night, it is enough.'

As John turned to answer her, the Island and the sea and the Lady herself vanished, and he was awake, in daylight, in his cell in the house of Wisdom, and a bell was ringing.
~C.S. Lewis, The Pilgrim's Regress, Book VII (1933)

Monday, September 12, 2005

Two on Love

Need-love cries to God from our poverty; Gift-love longs to serve, or even to suffer for, God; Appreciative love says: "We give thanks to thee for thy great glory." Need-love says of a woman "I cannot live without her"; Gift-love longs to give her happiness, comfort, protection - if possible, wealth; Appreciative love gazes and holds its breath and is silent, rejoices that such a wonder should exist even if not for him, will not be wholly dejected by losing her, would rather have it so than never to have seen her at all.
~C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves, (1960)

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket --safe, dark, motionless, airless-- it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.
~C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves, (1960)


On this day (catching up):

Sept. 10 1905 George MacDonald, whose writings greatly influenced Lewis, dies at age eighty.

Sept. 10 1956 Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold is published by Geoffrey Bles, London.


Note to readers: Yes, I know the second quotation is a repeat--I think a classic bears repeating once in awhile. ~Arevanye

Friday, September 09, 2005

From the Far Land of Spare Oom

"Good evening," said Lucy. But the Faun was so busy picking up its parcels that at first it did not reply. When it had finished it made her a little bow.

"Good evening, good evening," said the Faun. "Excuse me - I don't want to be inquisitive - but should I be right in thinking that you are a Daughter of Eve?"

"My name's Lucy," said she, not quite understanding him.

"But you are - forgive me - you are what they call a girl?" said the Faun.

"Of course I'm a girl," said Lucy.

"You are in fact Human?"

"Of course I'm human," said Lucy, still a little puzzled.

"To be sure, to be sure," said the Faun. "How stupid of me! But I've never seen a Son of Adam or a Daughter of Eve before. I am delighted. That is to say -" and then it stopped as if it had been going to say something it had not intended but had remembered in time. "Delighted, delighted," it went on. "Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Tumnus."

"I am very pleased to meet you, Mr. Tumnus," said Lucy.

"And may I ask, O Lucy Daughter of Eve," said Mr. Tumnus, "how you have come into Narnia?"

"Narnia? What's that?" said Lucy.

"This is the land of Narnia," said the Faun, "where we are now; all that lies between the lamp-post and the great castle of Cair Paravel on the eastern sea. And you - you have come from the wild woods of the west?"

"I - I got in through the wardrobe in the spare room," said Lucy.

"Ah!" said Mr. Tumnus in a rather melancholy voice, "if only I had worked harder at geography when I was a little Faun, I should no doubt know all about those strange countries. It is too late now."

"But they aren't countries at all," said Lucy, almost laughing. "It's only just back there - at least - I'm not sure. It is summer there."

"Meanwhile," said Mr. Tumnus, "it is winter in Narnia, and has been for ever so long, and we shall both catch cold if we stand here talking in the snow. Daughter of Eve from the far land of Spare Oom where eternal summer reigns around the bright city of War Drobe, how would it be if you came and had tea with me?"
~C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, (1950)


On this day:

1960 Studies in Words was published by Cambridge University Press.


Note to readers: I couldn't resist including a little spoiler pic from the upcoming movie. My apologies if you are trying to remain spoiler-free. I just think that Lucy looks adorable!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

A Bit More About Time

Almost certainly God is not in time. His life does not consist of moments following one another. If a million people are praying to Him at ten-thirty tonight, He need not listen to them all in that one little snippet which we call ten-thirty. Ten-thirty--and every other moment from the beginning of the world--is always the Present for Him. If you like to put it that way, He has all eternity in which to listen to the split second of prayer put up by a pilot as his plane crashes in flames.

That is difficult, I know. Let me try to give something, not the same, but a bit like it. Suppose I am writing a novel. I write 'Mary laid down her work; next moment came a knock at the door!' For Mary who has to live in the imaginary time of my story there is no interval between putting down the work and hearing the knock. But I, who am Mary's maker, do not live in that imaginary time at all. Between writing the first half of that sentence and the second, I might sit down for three hours and think steadily about Mary. I could think about Mary as if she were the only character in the book and for as long as I pleased, and the hours I spent in doing so would not appear in Mary's time (the time inside the story) at all.
~C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (1952)


On this day:

1947 Lewis appears on the cover of Time magazine, with the caption "Oxford's C.S. Lewis, His Heresy: Christianity"

1958 Reflections on the Psalms is published by Geoffrey Bles, London.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Driver

It was a wonderful vehicle, blazing with golden light, heraldically coloured. The Driver himself seemed full of light and he used only one hand to drive with. The other he waved before his face as if to fan away the greasy steam of the rain. A growl went up from the queue as he came in sight. 'Looks as if he had a good time of it, eh?...Bloody pleased with himself, I bet...My dear, why can't he behave naturally?--Thinks himself too good to look at us...Who does he imagine he is?...All that gilding and purple, I call it a wicked waste. Why don't they spend some of the money on their house property down here?--God! I'd like to give him one in the ear-'ole.' I could see nothing in the countenance of the Driver to justify all this, unless it were that he had a look of authority and seemed intent on carrying out his job.
~C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce, (1946)


On this day:

1953 The Silver Chair was published by Geoffrey Bles, London.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

No Beauty We Could Desire

Yes, you are always everywhere. But I,
Hunting in such immeasurable forests,
Could never bring the noble hart to bay.

The scent was too perplexing for my hounds;
Nowhere sometimes, then again everywhere.
Other scents, too, seemed to them almost the same

Therefore I turn my back on the unapproachable
Stars and horizons and all musical sounds,
Poetry itself, and the winding stair of thought.

Leaving the forests where you are pursued in vain
--Often a mere white gleam--I turn instead
To the appointed place where you pursue.

Not in Nature, not even in Man, but in one
Particular Man, with a date, so tall, weighing
So much, talking Armaic, having learned a trade;

Not in all food, not in all bread and wine
(Not, I mean, as my littleness requires)
But this wine, this beauty we could desire.
~C.S. Lewis, Poems, (1964)


On this day:

1954 The Horse and His Boy was published by Geoffrey Bles, London.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Three Cheers for Reepicheep

"Hurrah!" said a very shrill and small voice from somewhere at the Doctor's feet. "Let them come! All I ask is that the King will put me and my people in the front."

"What on earth?" said Doctor Cornelius. "Has your Majesty got grasshoppers - or mosquitoes - in your army?" Then after stooping down and peering carefully through his spectacles, he broke into a laugh. "By the Lion," he swore, "it's a mouse. Signior Mouse, I desire your better acquaintance. I am honoured by meeting so valiant a beast."

"My friendship you shall have, learned Man," piped Reepicheep. "And any Dwarf - or Giant - in the army who does not give you good language shall have my sword to reckon with."
~C.S. Lewis, Prince Caspian, 1951


She spent a good deal of time sitting on the little bench in the stern playing chess with Reepicheep. It was amusing to see him lifting the pieces, which were far too big for him, with both paws and standing on tiptoes if he made a move near the centre of the board. He was a good player and when he remembered what he was doing he usually won. But every now and then Lucy won because the Mouse did something quite ridiculous like sending a knight into the danger of a queen and castle combined. This happened because he had momentarily forgotten it was a game of chess and was thinking of a real battle and making the knight do what he would certainly have done in its place. For his mind was full of forlorn hopes, death-or-glory charges, and last stands.
~C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, 1952


"But we must do something," said Lucy. "He may have got lost, or fallen into a hole, or been captured by savages."

"Or killed by wild beasts," said Drinian.

"And a good riddance if he has, I say," muttered Rhince.

"Master Rhince," said Reepicheep, "you never spoke a word that became you less. The creature is no friend of mine but he is of the Queen's blood, and while he is one of our fellowship it concerns our honour to find him and to avenge him if he is dead."

"Of course we've got to find him (if we can)," said Caspian wearily. "That's the nuisance of it. It means a search party and endless trouble. Bother Eustace."
~C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, 1952


On this day:

1939 The first children evacuated from war-time London arrived at The Kilns, C.S. Lewis's residence.

1973 J.R.R. Tolkien, Lewis's friend, colleague, and fellow Inkling, died at age eighty-one.


Note to The Window readers:

This weekend, this blog will celebrate its first birthday. Many thanks to all of you for reading along this year.

In the Lion's name, I bid you "Further up and further in"!


Thursday, September 01, 2005

Necessity of Tribulation

I am progressing along the path of life in my ordinary contentedly fallen and godless condition, absorbed in a merry meeting with my friends for the morrow or a bit of work that tickles my vanity today, a holiday or a new book, when suddenly a stab of abdominal pain that threatens serious disease, or a headline in the newspapers that threatens us all with destruction, sends this whole pack of cards tumbling down. At first I am overwhelmed, and all my little happinesses look like broken toys. Then, slowly and reluctantly, bit by bit, I try to bring myself into the frame of mind that I should be in at all times. I remind myself that all these toys were never intended to possess my heart, that my true good is in another world and my only real treasure is Christ. And perhaps, by God's grace, I succeed, and for a day or two become a creature consciously dependent on God and drawing its strength from the right sources. But the moment the threat is withdrawn, my whole nature leaps back to the toys: I am even anxious, God forgive me, to banish from my mind the only thing that supported me under the threat because it is now associated with the misery of those few days. Thus the terrible necessity of tribulation is only too clear. God has had me for but forty-eight hours and then only by dint of taking everything else away from me. Let Him but sheathe that sword for a moment and I behave like a puppy when the hated bath is over--I shake myself dry as I can and race off to reacquire my comfortable dirtiness, if not in the nearest manure heap, at least in the nearest flower bed. And that is why tribulations cannot cease until God either sees us remade or sees that our remaking is now hopeless.
~C.S.Lewis, The Problem of Pain, (1940)