Quotes by C.S. Lewis

The Abolition of Man

“The heart never takes the place of the head: but it can, and should, obey it.”


“It still remains true that no justification of virtue will enable a man to be virtuous.”


“Without the aid of trained emotions the intellect is powerless against the animal organism.”


“As the king governs by his executive, so Reason in man must rule the mere appetites by means of the ‘spirited element.'”


“A great many of those who ‘debunk’ traditional…values have in the background values of their own which they believe to be immune from the debunking process.”


“The preservation of society, and of the species itself, are ends that do not hang on the precarious thread of Reason: they are given by Instinct.”


“If we did not bring to the examinations of our instincts a knowledge of their comparative dignity we could never learn it from them.”


“An open mind, in questions that are not ultimate, is useful. But an open mind about the ultimate foundations either of Theoretical or of Practical Reason is idiocy.”


“Wherever any precept of traditional morality is simply challenged to produce its credentials, as though the burden of proof lay on it, we have taken the wrong position.”


“If we are to have values at all we must accept the ultimate platitudes of Practical Reason as having absolute validity…”


“What we call Man’s power over Nature turns out to be a power exercised by some men over other men with Nature as its instrument.”


“Man’s conquest of Nature turns out, in the moment of its consummation, to be Nature’s conquest of Man.”


“No doubt those who really founded modern science were usually those whose love of truth exceeded their love of power.”


“If nothing is self-evident, nothing can be proved. Similarly if nothing is obligatory for its own sake, nothing is obligatory at all.”


“It is in Man’s power to treat himself as a mere ‘natural object’ and his own judgements of value as raw material for scientific manipulation to alter at will. The objection to his doing so does not lie in the fact that this point of view (like one’s first day in a dissecting room) is painful and shocking till we grow used to it. . . . The real objection is that if man chooses to treat himself as raw material, raw material he will be: not raw material to be manipulated, as he fondly imagined, by himself, but by mere appetite, that is, mere Nature, in the person of his de-humanized Conditioners. . . . Either we are rational spirit obliged for ever to obey the absolute values of the Tao [natural law], or else we are mere nature to be kneaded and cut into new shapes for the pleasures of masters who must, by hypothesis, have no motive but their own ‘natural’ impulses. Only the Tao provides a common human law of action which can over-arch rulers and ruled alike. A dogmatic belief in objective value is necessary to the very idea of a rule which is not tyranny or an obedience which is not slavery. . . . The process which, if not checked, will abolish Man goes on apace among Communists and Democrats no less than among Fascists. The methods may (at first) differ in brutality. But many a mild-eyed scientist in pince-nez, many a popular dramatist, many an amateur philosopher in our midst, means in the long run just the same as the Nazi rulers of Germany.”

The Allegory of Love

“To fight in another man’s armour is something more than to be influenced by his style of fighting.”


“Truth and falsehood are opposed; but truth is the norm not of truth only but of falsehood also.”

Answers to Questions on Christianity

“Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.”

The Case for Christianity

“Whenever you find a man who says he doesn’t believe in a real Right and Wrong, you will find the same man going back on this a moment later.”


“This year, or this month, or, more likely, this very day, we have failed to practise ourselves the kind of behaviour we expect from other people.”


“Human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and can’t really get rid of it.”


“Safety and happiness can only come from individuals, classes, and nations being honest and fair and kind to each other.”


“Reality, in fact, is always something you couldn’t have guessed. That’s one of the reasons I believe Christianity. It’s a religion you couldn’t have guessed.”


“Badness is only spoiled goodness.”


“God has landed on this enemy-occupied world in human form…The perfect surrender and humiliation was undergone by Christ: perfect because He was God, surrender and humiliation because He was man.”


“Now is our chance to choose the right side. God is holding back to give us that chance. It won’t last forever. We must take it or leave it.”

Christian Reflections

“The human mind has no more power of inventing a new value than of planting a new sun in the sky or a new primary colour in the spectrum…”


“The very idea of freedom presupposes some objective moral law which overarches rulers and ruled alike…Unless we return to the crude and nursery-like belief in objective values, we perish.”


“Unless thought is valid we have no reason to believe in the real universe.”


“A universe whose only claim to be believed in rests on the validity of inference must not start telling us the inference is invalid…”


“The laws of thought are also the laws of things: of things in the remotest space and the remotest time.”


“History is a story written by the finger of God.”


“Where, except in the present, can the Eternal be met?”

The Chronicles of Narnia, “On Three Ways of Writing for Children”

“Critics who treat adult as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves.”


“The worst attitude of all would be the professional attitude which regards children in the lump as a sort of raw material which we have to handle.”

Encounter with Light

“If you are really a product of a materialistic universe, how is it that you don’t feel at home there?”


“The notion that everyone would like Christianity to be true, and therefore all atheists are brave men who have accepted the defeat of all their deepest desires, is simply impudent nonsense.”

English Literature in the Sixteenth Century

“Morality or duty…never yet made a man happy in himself or dear to others.”

An Experiment in Criticism

“There are no variations except for those who know a norm, and no subtleties for those who have not grasped the obvious.”


“In the moral sphere, every act of justice or charity involves putting ourselves in the other person’s place and thus transcending our own competitive particularity.”


“In coming to understand anything we are rejecting the facts as they are for us in favour of the facts as they are.”

The Four Loves

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even 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. To love is to be vulnerable.”


“To the Ancients, Friendship seemed the happiest and most fully human of all loves; the crown of life and the school of virtue. The modern world, in comparison, ignores it.”


“Few value [friendship love] because few experience it. And the possibility of going through life without the experience is rooted in that fact which separates Friendship so sharply from both the other loves. Friendship is — in a sense not at all derogatory to it — the least natural of loves; the least instinctive, organic, biological, gregarious, and necessary… Without Eros none of us would have been begotten and without Affection none of us would have been reared; but we can live and breed without Friendship.”


“It has actually become necessary in our time to rebut the theory that every firm and serious friendship is really homosexual.”


“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.”


“There is no escape along the lines St. Augustine suggests. Nor along any other lines. There is no safe investment. 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 Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”


“God is love. Again, “Herein is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us” (1 John IV, 10). We must not begin with mysticism, with the creature’s love for God, or with the wonderful foretastes of the fruition of God vouchsafed to some in the earthly life. We begin at the real beginning, with love as the Divine energy. This primal love is Gift-love. In God there is no hunger that needs to be filled, only plenteousness that desires to give.”


“All that is not eternal is eternally out of date.”


“Those who cannot conceive Friendship as a substantive love but only as a disguise or elaboration of Eros betray the fact that they have never had a Friend.”


“In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets… Two friends delight to be joined by a third, and three by a fourth, if only the newcomer is qualified to become a real friend.”


“Friendship arises out of mere companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight or interest or even taste which the others do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden).”


“The shared activity and therefore the companionship on which friendship supervenes will not often be a bodily one like hunting or fighting. It may be a common religion, common studies, a common profession, even a common recreation. All who share it will be our companions; but one or two or three who share something more will be our friends.”


“In this kind of love, as Emerson said, Do you love me? means Do you see the same truth? — Or at least, “Do you care about the same truth?” The man who agrees with us that some question, little regarded by others, is of great importance can be our Friend. He need not agree with us about the answer.”


“People who simply “want friends” can never make any. The very condition of having friends is that we should want something else besides friends. Where the truthful answer to the question Do you see the same truth? would be “I see nothing and I don’t care about the truth; I only want a friend,” no friendship can arise — though affection of course may. There would be nothing for the friendship to be about; and friendship must be about something, even if it were only an enthusiasm for dominoes or white mice.”


“Those who have nothing can share nothing; those who are going nowhere can have no fellow-travellers.”


“Nothing so enriches erotic love as the discovery that the Beloved can deeply, truly and spontaneously enter into friendship with the friends you already had: to feel that not only are we two united by erotic love but we three or four or five are all travellers on the same quest, have all a common vision.”


“A Friend will, to be sure, prove himself to be an ally when alliance becomes necessary; will lend or give when we are in need, nurse us in sickness, stand up for us among our enemies, do what he can for our widows and orphans.”


“Eros will have naked bodies; Friendship naked personalities.”


“I have no duty to be anyone’s friend and no man in the world has a duty to be mine. No claims, no shadow of necessity. Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art, like the universe itself (for God did not need to create). It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”


“You will not find the warrior, the poet, the philosopher or the Christian by staring into his eyes as if he were your mistress: better fight beside him, read with him, argue with him, pray with him.”


“Every real friendship is a sort of secession, even a rebellion. It may be a rebellion of serious thinkers against accepted clap-trap or of faddists against accepted good sense; of real artists against popular ugliness or of charlatans against civilised taste; of good men against the badness of society or of bad men against its goodness.”


“But in friendship… we think we have chosen our peers. In reality, a few years’ difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another, posting to different regiments, the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting — any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking, no chances. A secret Master of Ceremonies has been at work.”


“The friendship is not reward for our discrimination and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each the beauties of all the others. They are no greater than the beauties of a thousand other men; by friendship God opens our eyes to them. They are, like all beauties, derived from Him and then, in a good friendship, increased by Him through the friendship itself, so that it is His instrument for creating as well as for revealing. At this feast it is He who has spread the board and it is He who has chosen the guests. It is He, we may dare to hope, who sometimes does, and always should, preside. Let us not reckon without our Host.”

God in the Dock

“If naturalism were true then all thoughts whatever would be wholly the result of irrational causes…it cuts its own throat.” (in “A Christian Reply to Professor Price”)


“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be ‘cured’ against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals. But to be punished, however severely, because we have deserved it, because we ‘ought to have known better,’ is to be treated as a human person made in God’s image.” (in “The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment”)


“Human intellect is incurably abstract.” (in “Myth Became Fact”)


“[W]here the Materialist would simply ask about a proposed action ‘Will it increase the happiness of the majority?’, the Christian might have to say, ‘Even if it does increase the happiness of the majority, we can’t do it. It is unjust.’ And all the time, one great difference would run through their whole policy. To the Materialist things like nations, classes, civilizations must be more important than individuals, because the individuals live only seventy odd years each and the group may last for centuries. But to the Christian, individuals are more important, for they live eternally; and races, civilizations and the like, are in comparison the creatures of a day.” (in “Man or Rabbit”)


“The more lucidly we think, the more we are cut off: the more deeply we enter into reality, the less we can think.” (in “Myth Became Fact”)


“You cannot study Pleasure in the moment of the nuptial embrace, nor repentance while repenting, nor analyze the nature of humour while roaring with laughter.” (in “Myth Became Fact”)


“They do not get their qualities from a class: they belong to that class because they have those qualities.” (in “Delinquents in the Snow”)


“The essence of religion, in my view, is the thirst for an end higher than natural ends…” (in “A Christian Reply to Professor Price”)


“One must keep on pointing out that Christianity is a statement which, if false, is of no importance, and, if true, of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important.” (in “Christian Apologetics”)


“If we are to be mothered, mother must know best. . . . In every age the men who want us under their thumb, if they have any sense, will put forward the particular pretension which the hopes and fears of that age render most potent. They ‘cash in.’ It has been magic, it has been Christianity. Now it will certainly be science. . . . Let us not be deceived by phrases about ‘Man taking charge of his own destiny.’ All that can really happen is that some men will take charge of the destiny of others. . . . The more completely we are planned the more powerful they will be.” (in “Is Progress Possible? Willing Slaves of the Welfare State”)

The Great Divorce

“Those that hate goodness are sometimes nearer than those that know nothing at all about it and think they have it already.”


“This moment contains all moments.”


“‘Nothing, not even what is lowest and most bestial, will not be raised again if it submits to death.'”

A Grief Observed

“Heaven will solve our problems, but not, I think, by showing us subtle reconciliations between all our apparently contradictory notions.”

The Horse and His Boy

“‘Then instantly the pale brightness of the mist and the fiery brightness of the Lion rolled themselves together into a swirling glory and gathered themselves up and disappeared.'”

The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment

“It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies.”


“Mercy, detached from Justice, grows unmerciful.”

The Last Battle

“There is a kind of happiness and wonder that makes you serious. It is too good to waste on jokes.”


“‘Yes,’ said Queen Lucy. ‘In our world too, a Stable once had something inside it that was bigger than our whole world.'”


“And then she understood the devilish cunning of the enemies’ plan. By mixing a little truth with it they had made their lie far stronger.”

Letters to an American Lady

“You have gone into the Temple…and found Him, as always, there.”


“Relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing had yet been done…”

Letters of C.S. Lewis

“So many things—nay every real thing—is good if only it will be humble and ordinate.”


“Odd, the way the less the Bible is read the more it is translated.” (25 May 1962)


“The difference [God’s] timelessness makes is that this now (which slips away from you even as you say the word now) is for Him infinite.” (1 August 1949)


“Only He who really lived a human life (and I presume that only one did) can fully taste the horror of death.” (c. September 1940)


“We’re not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.”  (29 April 1959)

Letters to Malcolm

“To be discontinuous from God as I am discontinuous from you would be annihilation.”


“Where, except in uncreated light, can the darkness be drowned?”


“Joy is the serious business of Heaven.”


“Certain things, if not seen as lovely or detestable, are not being correctly seen at all.”


“We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade, the presence of God.”


“Though we cannot experience our life as an endless present, we are eternal in God’s eyes; that is, in our deepest reality.”


“Every sin is the distortion of an energy breathed into us…”


“We poison the wine as He decants it into us; murder a melody He would play with us as the instrument…Hence all sin, whatever else it is, is sacrilege.”

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

“‘Safe?’ said Mr. Beaver…’Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.'”


“‘When a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards.'”

Mere Christianity

“The Moral Law tells us the tune we have to play: our instincts are merely the keys…”


“Surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of man he is…”


“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.”


“An individual Christian may see fit to give up all sorts of things for special reasons—marriage, or meat, or beer, or the cinema; but the moment he starts saying the things are bad in themselves, or looking down his nose at other people who do use them, he has taken the wrong turning.”


“The natural life in each of us is something self-centred, something that wants to be petted and admired, to take advantage of other lives, to exploit the whole universe.”


“The vice I am talking of is Pride or Self-Conceit: and the virtue opposite to it, in Christian morals, is called Humility….The essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere flea bites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind… it is Pride which has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began.”


“The terrible thing, the almost impossible thing, is to hand over your whole self—all your wishes and precautions—to Christ.”


“[The natural life] knows that if the spiritual life gets hold of it, all its self-centredness and self-will are going to be killed and it is ready to fight tooth and nail to avoid that.”


“If we discover a desire within us that nothing in this world can satisfy, also we should begin to wonder if perhaps we were created for another world.”


“If God thinks this state of war in the universe a price worth paying for free will…then we may take it it is worth paying.”


“Until you have given up your self to Him you will not have a real self…”


“Atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning…”


“When you are arguing against Him you are arguing against the very power that makes you able to argue at all.”


“You would not call a man humane for ceasing to set mousetraps if he did so because he believed there were no mice in the house.”


“There is nothing indulgent about the Moral Law. It is as hard as nails…If God is like the Moral Law, then He is not soft.”


“Now that I am a Christian I do not have moods in which the whole thing looks very improbable: but when I was an atheist I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable.”


“All that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—[is] the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.”


“The State exists simply to promote and to protect the ordinary happiness of human beings in this life. A husband and wife chatting over a fire, a couple of friends having a game of darts in a pub, a man reading a book in his own room or digging in his own garden—that is what the State is there for. And unless they are helping to increase and prolong and protect such moments, all the laws, parliaments, armies, courts, police, economics, etc., are simply a waste of time.”


“The central Christian belief is that Christ’s death has somehow put us right with God and given us a fresh start. Theories as to how it did this are another matter. A good many different theories have been held as to how it works; what all Christians are agreed on is that it does work.”


“We may indeed be sure that perfect chastity—like perfect charity—will not be attained by any merely human efforts. We must ask for God’s help. Even when you have done so, it may seem to you for a long time that no help, or less help than you need, is being given. Never mind. After each failure, ask forgiveness, pick yourself up, and try again.”


“Books on psychology or economics or politics are as continuously metaphorical as books of poetry or devotion.”


“No philosophical theory which I have yet come across is a radical improvement on the words of Genesis, that ‘In the beginning God made Heaven and Earth’.”


“Some people probably think of the Resurrection as a desperate last moment expedient to save the Hero from a situation which had got out of the Author’s control.”


“Every object you see before you at this moment—the walls, ceiling, and furniture, the book, your own washed hands and cut fingernails, bears witness to the colonization of Nature by Reason: for none of this matter would have been in these states if Nature had had her way.”


“The laws of nature produce no events, they state the pattern to which every event have only and can be induced to happen must conform. Just as the rules of arithmetics state the pattern to which all transactions with money must conform, if only you can get a hold of any money. Thus in one sense the laws of nature cover the whole field of space and time. In another what they leave out is precisely the whole real universe. The incessant torrent of actual events, which makes up true history, that must come from somewhere else. To think the laws can produce it is like thinking that you can create real money by simply doing sums. For every laws says in the last resort: ‘If you have A, then you will get B.’ But first catch your A. The Laws will not do it for you.”

Of Other Worlds

“Hatred obscures all distinctions.” (in “On Science Fiction”)

On Stories and Other Essays on Literature

“If we retain only what can be justified by standards of prudence and convenience at he bar of enlightened common sense, then we exchange revelation for that old wraith Natural Religion.” (in “Notes on the Way”)


“Beauty is not democratic; she reveals herself more to the few than to the many…” (in “Notes on the Way”)


“Democracy demands that little men should not take big ones too seriously; it dies when it is full of little men who think they are big themselves.” (in “Notes on the Way”)

Out of the Silent Planet

“‘We do not truly see light, we only see slower things lit by it, so that for us light is on the edge—the last thing we know before things become too swift for us.'”


“These things are not strange, Small One, though they are beyond our senses.”


“Thus, and not otherwise, the world was made. Either something or nothing must depend on individual choices.”


“Pure, spiritual, intellectual love shot form their faces like barbed lightning. It was so unlike the love we experience that its expression could easily be mistaken for ferocity.”


“‘How can I step out of [God’s] will save into something that cannot be wished?'”


“The extremity of its evil had passed beyond all struggle into some state which bore a horrible similarity to innocence.”

A Preface to "Paradise Lost"

“Every poem can be considered in two ways—as what the poet has to say, and as a thing which he makes.”


“The modern idea of a Great Man is one who stands at the lonely extremity of some single line of development—”


“Disobedience to conscience is voluntary; bad poetry, on the other hand, is usually not made on purpose.”


“Reasoning is never, like poetry, judged from the outside at all.”


“Only the skilled can judge the skillfulness, but that is not the same as judging the value of the result.”


“Who can endure a doctrine which would allow only dentists to say whether our teeth were aching, only cobblers to say whether our shoes hurt us, and only governments to tell us whether we were being well



“Everything except God has some natural superior; everything except unformed matter has some natural inferior.”


“Without sin, the universe is a Solemn Game: and there is no good game without rules.”


“To admire Satan [in Paradise Lost] is to give one’s vote not only for a world of misery, but also for a world of lies and propaganda, of wishful thinking, of incessant autobiography.”


“In the midst of a world of light and love, of song and feast and dance, [Lucifer] could find nothing to think of more interesting than his own prestige.”


“It is in their ‘good’ characters that novelists make, unawares, the most shocking self- revelations.”


“People blush at praise—not only praise of their bodies, but praise of anything that is theirs.”


“A creature revolting against a creator is revolting against the source of his own powers—including even his power to revolt…It is like the scent of a flower trying to destroy the flower.”

The Pilgrim's Regress

“It now seemed that…the deepest thirst within him was not adapted to the deepest nature of the world.”

Present Concerns

“We have had enough, once and for all, of Hedonism—the gloomy philosophy which says that Pleasure is the only good.” (in “Hedonics”)

Prince Caspian

“‘You come of the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve,’ said Aslan. ‘And that is both honour enough to erect the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor in earth.'”

The Problem of Pain

“Destruction…means the unmaking, or cessation, of the destroyed. And people often talk as if the ‘annihilation’ of a soul were intrinsically possible. In all our experience…the destruction of one thing means the emergence of something else. Burn a log, and you have gases, heat and ash. To have been a log means now being those three things. If soul can be destroyed, must there not be a state of having been a human soul? And is not that, perhaps, the state which is equally well described as torment, destruction, and privation? You will remember that in the parable, the saved go to a place prepared for them, while the damned go to a place never made for men at all. To enter heaven is to become more human than you ever succeeded in being in earth; to enter hell, is to be banished from humanity. What is cast (or casts itself) into hell is not a man: it is ‘remains’.”


“If the universe is so bad…how on earth did human beings ever come to attribute it to the activity of a wise and good Creator?”


“Love is something more stern and splendid than mere kindness.”


“Love may forgive all infirmities and love still in spite of them: but Love cannot cease to will their removal.”


“God has paid us the intolerable compliment of loving us, in the deepest, most tragic, most inexorable sense.”


“From the moment a creature becomes aware of God as God and of itself as self, the terrible alternative of choosing God or self for the centre is opened to it.”


“A blessed spirit is a mould ever more and more patient of the bright metal poured into it, a body ever more completely uncovered to the meridian blaze of the spiritual sun.”


“For in self-giving, if anywhere, we touch a rhythm not only of all creation but of all being.”


“What is outside the system of self-giving is no earth, nor nature, nor ‘ordinary life’, but simply and solely Hell. Yet even Hell derives from this law such reality as it has.”


“That fierce imprisonment in the self is but the obverse of the self-giving which is absolute reality…”


“At this very moment you and I are either committing [selfishness], or about to commit it, or repenting it.”


“The dangers of apparent self-sufficiency explain why Our Lord regards the vices of the feckless and dissipated so much more leniently than the vices that lead to worldly success.”


“Prostitutes are in no danger of finding their present life so satisfactory that they cannot turn to God: the proud, the avaricious, the self-righteous, are in that danger.”


“[One] can regard the moral law as an illusion, and so cut himself off from the common ground of humanity.”


“When we are such as He can love without impediment, we shall in fact be happy.”


“This act of self-will on the part of the creature, which constitutes an utter falseness to its true creaturely position, is the only sin that can be conceived as the Fall.”


“When God becomes a Man and lives as a creature among His own creatures in Palestine, then indeed His life is one of supreme self-sacrifice and leads to Calvary.”


“The gravitation away from God, ‘the journey homeward to habitual self’, must, we think, be a product of the Fall.”


“If we will not learn to eat the only food that the universe grows…then we must starve eternally.”


“Everyone feels benevolent if nothing happens to be annoying him at the moment.”


“Unless Christianity is wholly false, the perception of ourselves which we have in moments of shame must be the only true one…”


“Perfect goodness can never debate about the end to be attained, and perfect wisdom cannot debate about the means most suited to achieve it.”


“The ‘frankness’ of people sunk below shame is a very cheap frankness.”


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


“It is by human avarice or human stupidity, not by the churlishness of nature, that we have poverty and overwork.”


“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”


“[Pain] removes the veil; it plants the flag of truth within the fortress of a rebel soul.”


“We regard God as an airman regards his parachute; it’s there for emergencies but he hopes he’ll never have to use it.”


“It matters enormously if I alienate anyone from the truth.”


“Those who would like the God of scripture to be more purely ethical, do not know what they ask.”


“[God] is not proud…He will have us even though we have shown that we prefer everything else to Him.”


“If God were a Kantian, who would not have us till we came to Him from the purest and best motives, who could be saved?”


“Tribulations cannot cease until God either sees us remade or sees that our remaking is now hopeless.”


“Those who would most scornfully repudiate Christianity as a mere “opiate of the people” have a contempt for the rich, that is, for all mankind except the poor.”


“Every uncorrected error and unrepented sin is, in its own right, a fountain of fresh error and fresh sin flowing on to the end of time.”


“Heaven offers nothing that a mercenary soul can desire.”


“Be sure that the ins and outs of your individuality are no mystery to Him; and one day they will no longer be a mystery to you.”


“God will look to every soul like its first love because He is its first love.”


“Try to exclude the possibility of suffering which the order of nature and the existence of free-wills involve, and you find that you have excluded life itself.”


“Morality, like numinous awe, is a jump; in it, man goes beyond anything that can be ‘given’ in the facts of experience.”


“All men alike stand condemned, not by alien codes of ethics, but by their own, and all men therefore are conscious of guilt.”


“[Consciousness] is either inexplicable illusion, or else revelation.”


“The road to the promised land runs past Sinai.”


“That the lost soul is eternally fixed in its diabolical attitude we cannot doubt: but whether this eternal fixity implies endless duration—or duration at all—we cannot say.”

Reflections on the Psalms

“It is in the process of being worshipped that God communicates His presence to men.”


“I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation.”


“The Psalmists in telling everyone to praise God are doing what all men do when they speak of what they care about.”


“Of all bad men religious bad men are the worst.”


“No good work is done anywhere without aid from the Father of Lights.”


“Poetry too is a little incarnation, giving body to what had been before invisible and inaudible.”


“The most valuable thing the Psalms do for me is to express the same delight in God which made David dance.”


“I have therefore no difficulty in accepting, say, the view of those scholars who tell us that the account of Creation in Genesis is derived from earlier Semitic stories which were Pagan and mythical.”


“all Holy Scripture is in some sense—though not all parts of it in the same sense—the Word of God.”

Rehabilitations and Other Essays

“For me, reason is the natural organ of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning.”

The Screwtape Letters

“The claim to equality, outside the strictly political field, is made only by those who feel themselves to be in some way inferior.”


“Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.”

The Seeing Eye

“Looking for God—or Heaven—by exploring space is like reading or seeing all Shakespeare’s plays in the hope that you will find Shakespeare as one of the characters…”

The Silver Chair

“‘You would not have called to me unless I had been calling to you,'” said the Lion.”


“I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia.”


“‘Don’t you mind him,’ said Puddleglum. ‘There are no accidents. Our guide is Aslan.'”

Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Literature

“Many things—such as loving, going to sleep, or behaving unaffectedly—are done worst when we try hardest to do them.”


“Conquest is an evil productive of almost every other evil both to those who commit and to those who suffer it.”

Surprised by Joy

“An Ulster Scot may come to disbelieve in God, but not to wear his weekday clothes on the Sabbath.”


“The universe rings true wherever you fairly test it.”


“The very nature of Joy makes nonsense of our common distinction between having and wanting.”


“A young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere—’Bibles laid open, millions of surprises,’ as Herbert says, ‘fine nets and stratagems.’ God is, if I may say it, very unscrupulous.”


“The surest way of spoiling a pleasure [is] to start examining your satisfaction.”


“The moment good taste knows itself, some of its goodness is lost.”


“Really, a young Atheist cannot guard his faith too carefully. Dangers lie in wait for him on every side.”


“You must not do, you must not even try to do, the will of the Father unless you are prepared to ‘know of the doctrine’.”

That Hideous Strength

“…of that intimate laughter between fellow professionals, which of all earthly powers is strongest to make men do very bad things before they are yet, individually, very bad men.”

They Asked for a Paper

“Unless the religious claims of the Bible are again acknowledged, its literary claims will, I think, be given only ‘mouth honour’ and that decreasingly.”

Till We Have Faces

“Nothing is yet in its true form.”


“It was when I was happiest that I longed most…The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing…to find the place where all the beauty came from.”

Transposition and Other Addresses

“Though I do not believe that my desire for Paradise proves that I shall enjoy it, I think it a pretty good indication that such a thing exists and that some men will.”


“We are born helpless. As soon as we are fully conscious we discover loneliness…”


“If there is equality it is in His love, not in us.”


“Authority exercised with humility, and obedience accepted with delight are the very lines along which our spirits live.”


“He who surrenders himself without reservation to the temporal claims of a nation, or a party, or a class is rendering to Caesar that which, of all things, most emphatically belongs to God: himself…”

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

“Sleeping on a dragon’s hoard with greedy, dragonish thoughts in his heart, he had become a dragon himself.”

The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses

“There are no ordinary people. You have never met a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations, these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat.”


“The proper rewards are not simply tacked on to the activity for which they are given, but are the activity itself in consummation.”


“You and I have need of the strongest spell that can be found to wake us from the evil enchantment of worldliness.”


“Perfect humility dispenses with modesty.”


“If God is satisfied with the work, the work may be satisfied with itself.”


“When humans should have become as perfect in voluntary obedience as the inanimate creation is in its lifeless obedience, then they will put on its glory, or rather that greater glory of which Nature is only the first sketch.”


“As long as this deliberate refusal to understand things from above, even where such understanding is possible, continues, it is idle to talk of any final victory over materialism.”


“No Christian and, indeed, no historian could accept the epigram which defines religion as ‘what a man does with his solitude.'”


“We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and private: and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship.”


“To make Christianity a private affair while banishing all privacy is to relegate it to the rainbow’s end or the Greek Calends.”


“100 per cent of us die, and the percentage cannot be increased.”


“When you invite a middle-aged moralist to address you, I suppose I must conclude…that you have a taste for middle-aged moralizing.”


“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare.”


“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you. This is hard. It is perhaps not so hard to forgive a single great injury. But to forgive the incessant provocations of daily life — to keep on forgiving the bossy mother-in-law, the bullying husband, the nagging wife, the selfish daughter, the deceitful son — how can we do it? Only, I think, by remembering where we stand, by meaning our words when we say our prayers each night ‘forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us.’ We are offered forgiveness on no other terms. To refuse is to refuse God’s mercy for ourselves.”

The World's Last Night

“Christ died for men precisely because men are not worth dying for; to make them worth it.”


“The true enjoyments must be spontaneous and compulsive and look to no remoter end.”


“The idea which…shuts out the Second Coming from our minds, the idea of the world slowly ripening to perfection, is a myth, not a generalization from experience.”


“To play well the scenes in which we are ‘on’ concerns us much more than to guess about the scenes that follow it.”


“The saying ‘Blessed are those that have not seen and have believed’ has nothing to do with our original assent to the Christian propositions. It was not addressed to a philosopher inquiring whether God exists. It was addressed to a man who already believed that, who already had long acquaintance with a particular Person, and evidence that that Person could do very odd things, and who then refused to believe one odd thing more, often predicted by that Person and vouched for by all his closest friends. It is a rebuke not to skepticism in the philosophic sense but to the psychological quality of being ‘suspicious.’ It says in effect, ‘You should have known me better.’” [from “On Obstinacy in Belief”]


“I fully embrace the maxim (which . . . borrows from a Christian) that ‘all power corrupts.’ I would go further. The loftier the pretensions of the power, the more meddlesome, inhuman, and oppressive it will be. Theocracy is the worst of all possible governments. All political power is at best a necessary evil: but it is least evil when its sanctions are most modest and commonplace, when it claims no more than to be useful or convenient and sets itself strictly limited objectives. Anything transcendental or spiritual, or even anything very strongly ethical, in its pretensions is dangerous and encourages it to meddle with our private lives. Let the shoemaker stick to his last. Thus the Renaissance doctrine of Divine Right is for me a corruption of monarchy; Rousseau’s General Will, of democracy; racial mysticisms, of nationality. And Theocracy, I admit and even insist, is the worst corruption of all.” [from “Lilies that Fester”]


“For whatever else the religious life may be, it is the fountain of self-knowledge and disillusion, the safest form of psychoanalysis.” (in Book Review of Review of English Studies)


“‘Something of God…flows into us from the blue of the sky, the taste of honey, the delicious embrace of water whether cold or hot, and even from sleep itself.'” (in “Scraps,” St. James’ Magazine)


“Every story of conversion is the story of a blessed defeat.” (in Foreword to Joy Davidman’s Smoke on the Mountain)