C.S. Lewis – select quotes

A book which is enjoyed only by children is a bad children’s story. The good ones last. A book which is not worth reading at age 50 is not worth reading at age 10.
~ in “On Three Ways of Writing for Children”

But if the lords were glum, the common people in the streets were huzzaing and throwing caps in the air. It would have puffed me up if I had not looked in their faces. There I could read their mind easily enough. Neither I nor Glome was in their thoughts. Any fight was a free show for them; and a fight of a woman with a man better still because an oddity–as those who can’t tell one tune from another will crowd to hear the harp if a man plays it with his toes.
~ Character in Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold

Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.

From all my lame defeats and oh! much more
From all the victories that I seem to score;
From cleverness shot forth on Thy behalf
At which, while angels weep, the audience laugh;
From all my proofs of Thy divinity
Thou, who wouldst give no other sign, deliver me
Thoughts are but coins. Let me not trust instead
Of Thee, their thin-worn image of my head.
From all my thoughts, even from my thoughts of Thee
O thou fair Silence, fall, and set me free.
Lord of the narrow gate and the needle’s eye,
Take me from all my trumpery lest I die.
~ The Apologists Evening Prayer

God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts to us in our pains. Suffering is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world.

Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance.

He that but looketh on a plate of ham and eggs to lust after it hath already committed breakfast with it in his heart.

He wants a child’s heart, but a grown up’s head.

He who converts his neighbour has performed the most practical Christian-political act of all.
~ in God in the Dock

Human history is the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.

I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.

I had known Redival’s tears ever since I could remember. They were not wholly feigned, nor much dearer than ditchwater…. It’s likely enough she meant less mischief than she had done (she never knew how much she meant) and was now, in her fashion, sorry; but a new brooch, much more a new lover, would have had her drying her eyes and laughing in no time.
~ Character in Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold

I want God, not my idea of God.

If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.

If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.

It burned me from within. It quickened; I was with book, as a woman is with child.
~ Character in Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold

It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.

The one sin the gods never forgive us is that of being born women.
~ Character in Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold

The safest road to hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.

There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly 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.

We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.

“We’ve had scores of matches together. The gods never made anyone–man or woman–with a better natural gift for it. Oh, Lady, Lady, it’s a thousand pities they didn’t make you a man.” (He spoke it as kindly and heartily as could be; as if a man dashed a gallon of cold water in your broth and never doubted you’d like it all the better.)
~ Character in Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold

When I fail as a critic I may yet be useful as a specimen.

Yet it surprised me that he should have said it; for I did not yet know that, if you are ugly enough, all men (unless they hate you deeply) soon give up thinking of you as a woman at all.
~ Character in  Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold

A man can eat his dinner without understanding exactly how food nourishes him. A man can accept what Christ has done without knowing how it works: indeed, he certainly would not know how it works until he has accepted it.

We have a strange illusion that mere time cancels sin. But mere time does nothing either to the fact or the guilt of sin.

We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is good, because it is good, if bad, because it works in us patience, humility, and the contempt of this world along with the hope of our eternal country.


Book Cover