Today, on the anniversary of his death, I would like to share some favorite lines, not from his more popular books, but from some many folks might not have read.
"In Greek, I have started to read Homer's Illiad, of which, of course, you must often have heard. Although you don't know Greek & don't care for poetry, I cannot resist the temptation of telling you how stirring it is. Thos fine, simple, euphonious lines, as they roll on with a roar like that of the ocean, strike a chord in one's mind that no modern literature approaches." from The Collected Letters Of C.S. Lewis. It's rather like a spell to induce one's students to read Homer, don't you think?
"No lawgiver, inner or outer, gives laws in a vacuum; he always has real or supposed facts in mind, an idea of what is, which influences his rulings about what ought to be. Thus the outer lawgiver ceases to make new statutes against witchcraft when he ceases to believe in it, and does not make vaccination compulsory till he thinks it will prevent smallpox. It is the same with the inner lawgiver." from "Conscience and Conscious" in Studies in Words (Canto).
"The knight is a man of blood and iron, a man familiar with the sight of smashed faces and the ragged stumps of lopped-off limbs; he is also a demure, almost a maidenlike, guest in hall, a gentle, modest, unobtrusive man." from "The Necessity of Chivalry" in Present Concerns.
"You can eat the local food and drink the local wines, you can share the foreign life, you can begin to see the foreign country as it looks, not to the tourist, but to its inhabitants, You can come home modified, thinking and feeling as you did not think and feel before. So with the old literature." from De Audiendis Poetis" in Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Literature (Canto)
And my personal favorite Lewis quote: "Are you looking for an ashtray? Use the carpet." from an interview, "Unreal Estates" in Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories (a wonderful and eclectic collection).
I wanted to add quotes from Reflections on the Psalms and Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, but it seems as though someone has borrowed them (I suspect daughter #1). Perhaps next year.
And a little advice to my children seeking spouses: Ask a potential mate in which order the Chronicles ought to be read. If he or she replies, "The order in which they were published," you have an excellent match. If the answer is, "The order in which they were written," it will work out well. An answer of, "Chronological order," means some couples' counseling will be in order. But if the answer comes quickly, "It doesn't matter," run for the hills.