Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The live dog and the dead lion

"Suppose you had spent an evening among very young and very transparent snobs who were feigning a discriminating enjoyment of a great port, though anyone who knew could see very well that, if they had ever drunk port in their lives before, it came from a grocer's. And then suppose that on your journey home you went into a grubby little teashop and there heard an old body in a feather boa say to another old body, with a smack of her lips, 'That was a nice cup o'tea, dearie, that was. Did me good.' Would you not, at that moment, feel that this was like fresh mountain air? For here, at last, would be something real. Here would be a mind really concerned about that in which it expressed concern. Here would be pleasure, here would be undebauched experience, spontaneous and compulsive, from the fountain head. A live dog is better than a dead lion. In the same way, after a certain kind of sherry party, where there have been cataracts of culture but never one word or one glance that suggested a real enjoyment of any art, any person or any natural object, my heart warms to the schoolboy on the bus who is reading Fantasy and Science Fiction, rapt and oblivious of all the world beside. For here also I should feel that I had met something real and live and unfabricated; genuine literary experience, spontaneous and compulsive, disinterested. I should have hopes of that boy. Those who have greatly cared for any book whatever may possibly come to care, some day, for good books. The organs of appreciation exist in them. They are not impotent. And even if this particular boy is never going to like anything severer than science fiction, even so.

The child whose love is here, at least doth reap
One precious gain, that he forgets himself."
C S Lewis, Lilies that Fester


forlorn said...

Thanks for posting that.

Dale Slamma said...

Holy calamity. Now I am thinking.

TimT said...

He's good for exertations of the old cerebellum, is Lewis.

Email: timhtrain - at -

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