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C. S. Lewis

Date de naissance: 29. novembre 1898
Date de décès: 24. novembre 1963
Autres noms:C.S. Lewis

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Clive Staples Lewis, plus connu sous le nom de C. S. Lewis, né à Belfast le 29 novembre 1898 et mort à Oxford le 22 novembre 1963, est un écrivain et universitaire britannique. Il est connu pour ses travaux sur la littérature médiévale, ses ouvrages de critique littéraire et d'apologétique du christianisme, ainsi que pour la série des Chroniques de Narnia parues entre 1950 et 1957.

Ami très proche de J. R. R. Tolkien, l'auteur du Seigneur des anneaux, il enseigne à ses côtés à la faculté de littérature anglaise de l'université d'Oxford ; ils faisaient tous deux partie du cercle littéraire des Inklings. Partiellement en raison de l'influence de Tolkien et de la lecture de G. K. Chesterton, Lewis s'est reconverti au christianisme, devenant, selon ses propres termes, « un très ordinaire laïc de l'Église d'Angleterre » ; cette reconversion a eu de profondes conséquences sur son œuvre. Il a acquis une grande popularité par les chroniques radiophoniques sur le christianisme qu'il a données au cours de la Seconde Guerre mondiale et obtenu un énorme succès avec ses livres de fantasy pour enfants.

Les œuvres de C. S. Lewis ont été traduites en plus de 40 langues et le recueil des Chroniques de Narnia s'est vendu à plus de 120 millions d'exemplaires dans le monde et continue à se vendre au rythme de plus d'un million d'exemplaires par an. Le Monde de Narnia a également été adapté à plusieurs reprises au théâtre et au cinéma.

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Citations C. S. Lewis

„You can't get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.“

— Clive Staples Lewis
As quoted in Of This and Other Worlds (1982) by Walter Hooper, Preface, p. 9

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„Neither the temporal succession nor the phantom of what ye might have chosen and didn't is itself Freedom. They are a lens. The picture is a symbol: but it's truer than any philosophical theorem (or, perhaps, than any mystic's vision) that claims to go behind it. For every attempt to see the shape of eternity except through the lens of Time destroys your knowledge of Freedom."“

— Clive Staples Lewis
Context: "Ye can know nothing of the end of all things, or nothing expressible in those terms. It may be, as the Lord said to the Lady Julian, that all will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well. But it's ill talking of such questions." "Because they are too terrible, Sir?" "No. Because all answers deceive. If ye put the question from within Time and are asking about possibilities, the answer is certain. The choice of ways is before you. Neither is closed. Any man may choose eternal death. Those who choose it will have it. But if ye are trying to leap on into Eternity, if ye are trying to see the final state of all things as it will be (for so ye must speak) when there are no more possibilities left but only the Real, then ye ask what cannot be answered to mortal ears. Time is the very lens through which ye see — small and clear, as men see through the wrong end of a telescope — something that would otherwise be too big for ye to see at all. That thing is Freedom: the gift whereby ye most resemble your Maker and are yourselves parts of eternal reality. But ye can see it only through the lens of Time, in a little clear picture, through the inverted telescope. It is a picture of moments following one another and yourself in each moment making some choice that might have been otherwise. Neither the temporal succession nor the phantom of what ye might have chosen and didn't is itself Freedom. They are a lens. The picture is a symbol: but it's truer than any philosophical theorem (or, perhaps, than any mystic's vision) that claims to go behind it. For every attempt to see the shape of eternity except through the lens of Time destroys your knowledge of Freedom." Ch. 13

„I do not contradict him. But I reject slavery because I see no men fit to be masters.“

— Clive Staples Lewis
Context: I don't deserve a share in governing a hen-roost, much less a nation. Nor do most people — all the people who believe advertisements, and think in catchwords and spread rumors. The real reason for democracy is just the reverse. Mankind is so fallen that no man can be trusted with unchecked power over his fellows. Aristotle said that some people were only fit to be slaves. I do not contradict him. But I reject slavery because I see no men fit to be masters.

„Does God then forsake just those who serve Him best? Well, He who served Him best of all said, near His tortured death, “Why hast thou forsaken me?” When God becomes man, that Man, of all others, is least comforted by God, at His greatest need. There is a mystery here which, even if I had the power, I might not have the courage to explore. Meanwhile, little people like you and me, if our prayers are sometimes granted, beyond all hope and probability, had better not draw hasty conclusions to our own advantage. If we were stronger, we might be less tenderly treated. If we were braver, we might be sent, with far less help, to defend far more desperate posts in the great battle.“

— Clive Staples Lewis
Context: Prayer is not a machine. It is not magic. It is not advice offered to God. Our act, when we pray, must not, any more than all our other acts, be separated from the continuous act of God Himself, in which alone all finite causes operate. It would be even worse to think of those who get what they pray for as a sort of court favorites, people who have influence with the throne. The refused prayer of Christ in Gethsemane is answer enough to that. And I dare not leave out the hard saying which I once heard from an experienced Christian: “I have seen many striking answers to prayer and more than one that I thought miraculous. But they usually come at the beginning: before conversion, or soon after it. As the Christian life proceeds, they tend to be rarer. The refusals, too, are not only more frequent; they become more unmistakable, more emphatic.” Does God then forsake just those who serve Him best? Well, He who served Him best of all said, near His tortured death, “Why hast thou forsaken me?” When God becomes man, that Man, of all others, is least comforted by God, at His greatest need. There is a mystery here which, even if I had the power, I might not have the courage to explore. Meanwhile, little people like you and me, if our prayers are sometimes granted, beyond all hope and probability, had better not draw hasty conclusions to our own advantage. If we were stronger, we might be less tenderly treated. If we were braver, we might be sent, with far less help, to defend far more desperate posts in the great battle.

„And now, by a transition which he did not notice, it seemed that what had begun as speech was turned into sight, or into something that can be remembered only as if it were seeing. He thought he saw the Great Dance.“

— Clive Staples Lewis
Context: And now, by a transition which he did not notice, it seemed that what had begun as speech was turned into sight, or into something that can be remembered only as if it were seeing. He thought he saw the Great Dance. It seemed to be woven out of the intertwining undulation of many cords or bands of light, leaping over and under one another and mutually embraced in arabesques and flower-like subtleties. Each figure as he looked at it became the master-figure or focus of the whole spectacle, by means of which his eye disentangled all else and brought it into unity — only to be itself entangled when he looked to what he had taken for mere marginal decorations and found that there also the same hegemony was claimed, and the claim made good, yet the former pattern thereby disposed but finding in its new subordination a significance greater than that which it had abdicated. He could see also (but the word "seeing" is now plainly inadequate) wherever the ribbons or serpents of light intersected minute corpuscles of momentary brightness: and he knew somehow that these particles were the secular generalities of which history tells — people, institutions, climates of opinion, civilizations, arts, sciences and the like — ephemeral coruscations that piped their short song and vanished. The ribbons or cords themselves, in which millions of corpuscles lived and died, were the things of some different kind. At first he could not say what. But he knew in the end that most of them were individual entities. If so, the time in which the Great Dance proceeds is very unlike time as we know it. Some of the thinner more delicate cords were the beings that we call short lived: flowers and insects, a fruit or a storm of rain, and once (he thought) a wave of the sea. Others were such things we think lasting: crystals, rivers, mountains, or even stars. Far above these in girth and luminosity and flashing with colours form beyond our spectrum were the lines of personal beings, yet as different from one another in splendour as all of them from the previous class. But not all the cords were individuals: some of them were universal truths or universal qualities. It did not surprise him then to find that these and the persons were both cords and both stood together as against the mere atoms of generality which lived and died in the clashing of their streams: But afterwards, when he came back to earth, he wondered. And by now the thing must have passed together out of the region of sight as we understand it. For he says that the whole figure of these enamored and inter-inanimate circlings was suddenly revealed as the mere superficies of a far vaster pattern in four dimensions, and that figure as the boundary of yet others in other worlds: till suddenly as the movement grew yet swifter, the interweaving yet more ecstatic, the relevance of all to all yet more intense, as dimension was added to dimension and that part of him which could reason and remember was dropped further and further behind that part of him which saw, even then, at the very zenith of complexity, complexity was eaten up and faded, as a thin white cloud fades into the hard blue burning of sky, and all simplicity beyond all comprehension, ancient and young as spring, illimitable, pellucid, drew him with cords of infinite desire into its own stillness. He went up into such a quietness, a privacy, and a freshness that at the very moment when he stood farthest from our ordinary mode of being he had the sense of stripping off encumbrances and awaking from a trance, and coming to himself. With a gesture of relaxation he looked about him…

„Among Pantheists, like the Indians, anyone might say that he was a part of God, or one with God: there would be nothing very odd about it.“

— Clive Staples Lewis
Context: Among these Jews there suddenly turns up a man who goes about talking as if He was God. He claims to forgive sins. He says He has always existed. He says He is coming to judge the world at the end of time. Now let us get this clear. Among Pantheists, like the Indians, anyone might say that he was a part of God, or one with God: there would be nothing very odd about it. But this man, since He was a Jew, could not mean that kind of God. God, in their language, meant the Being outside of the world, who had made it and was infinitely different from anything else. And when you have grasped that, you will see that what this man said was, quite simply, the most shocking thing that has ever been uttered by human lips. Book II, Chapter 3, "The Shocking Alternative"

„There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done."“

— Clive Staples Lewis
Context: 'But what of the poor Ghosts who never get into the omnibus at all?' 'Everyone who wishes it does. Never fear. There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done." All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened.' Ch. 9, p. 72; part of this has also been rendered in a variant form, and quoted as:

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„I do not think the forest would be so bright, nor the water so warm, nor love so sweet, if there were no danger in the lakes.“

— Clive Staples Lewis
Context: And I say also this. I do not think the forest would be so bright, nor the water so warm, nor love so sweet, if there were no danger in the lakes. Hyoi, p. 76 <!-- 2003 edition -->

„When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.“

— Clive Staples Lewis
Context: Critics who treat adult as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up. "On Three Ways of Writing for Children" (1952) — in Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories (1967), p. 25

„God designed the human machine to run on Himself.“

— Clive Staples Lewis
Context: God made us: invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on petrol, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. Book II, Chapter 3, "The Shocking Alternative"

„You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.“

— Clive Staples Lewis
Context: I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would be either a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. Book II, Chapter 3, "The Shocking Alternative"

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„It foretells a sudden, violent end imposed from without; an extinguisher popped onto the candle, a brick flung at the gramophone, a curtain rung down on the play — "Halt!"“

— Clive Staples Lewis
Context: Christian Apocalyptic offers us no such hope. It does not even foretell, (which would be more tolerable to our habits of thought) a gradual decay. It foretells a sudden, violent end imposed from without; an extinguisher popped onto the candle, a brick flung at the gramophone, a curtain rung down on the play — "Halt!"

„The doctrine of the Second Coming teaches us that we do not and cannot know when the world drama will end.“

— Clive Staples Lewis
Context: The doctrine of the Second Coming teaches us that we do not and cannot know when the world drama will end. The curtain may be rung down at any moment: say, before you have finished reading this paragraph.

„Where men are forbidden to honor a king they honor millionaires, athletes, or film-stars instead — even famous prostitutes or gangsters. For spiritual nature, like bodily nature, will be served — deny it food and it will gobble poison.“

— Clive Staples Lewis
Context: We Britons should rejoice that we have contrived to reach much legal democracy (we still need more of the economic) without losing our ceremonial Monarchy. For there, right in the midst of our lives, is that which satisfies the craving for inequality, and acts as a permanent reminder that medicine is not food. Hence a man's reaction to Monarchy is a kind of test. Monarchy can easily be "debunked", but watch the faces, mark well the accents of the debunkers. These are the men whose taproot in Eden has been cut — whom no rumor of the polyphony, the dance, can reach – men to whom pebbles laid in a row are more beautiful than an arch. Yet even if they desire mere equality they cannot reach it. Where men are forbidden to honor a king they honor millionaires, athletes, or film-stars instead — even famous prostitutes or gangsters. For spiritual nature, like bodily nature, will be served — deny it food and it will gobble poison.

„It would be even worse to think of those who get what they pray for as a sort of court favorites, people who have influence with the throne. The refused prayer of Christ in Gethsemane is answer enough to that.“

— Clive Staples Lewis
Context: Prayer is not a machine. It is not magic. It is not advice offered to God. Our act, when we pray, must not, any more than all our other acts, be separated from the continuous act of God Himself, in which alone all finite causes operate. It would be even worse to think of those who get what they pray for as a sort of court favorites, people who have influence with the throne. The refused prayer of Christ in Gethsemane is answer enough to that. And I dare not leave out the hard saying which I once heard from an experienced Christian: “I have seen many striking answers to prayer and more than one that I thought miraculous. But they usually come at the beginning: before conversion, or soon after it. As the Christian life proceeds, they tend to be rarer. The refusals, too, are not only more frequent; they become more unmistakable, more emphatic.” Does God then forsake just those who serve Him best? Well, He who served Him best of all said, near His tortured death, “Why hast thou forsaken me?” When God becomes man, that Man, of all others, is least comforted by God, at His greatest need. There is a mystery here which, even if I had the power, I might not have the courage to explore. Meanwhile, little people like you and me, if our prayers are sometimes granted, beyond all hope and probability, had better not draw hasty conclusions to our own advantage. If we were stronger, we might be less tenderly treated. If we were braver, we might be sent, with far less help, to defend far more desperate posts in the great battle.

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