Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Glimpses of Greatness

Sometimes, as in hearing our own voice for too long, we can grow weary of our own writing. Or at least I can. I begin to feel that my problems with my story, my issues with word choice or plot progression are all there is in the realm of literature. Thank heaven that is not true, for what a pickle we'd be in! So I like to refresh myself with delicious excerpts from other writers. They refresh, while at the same time challenge me to examine my writing and try to do better. So I thought I'd share with you a few excerpts that thrilled me:

Gentian Hill by Elizabeth Goudge (haven't read the book, just this quote. :)
"My name is Stella Sprigg, " said Stella. "What is your name?" To her, as to all children, names were tremendously important. Your Christian name, joining you to God, your surname linking you to your father. If you had both names you had your place in the world, walking safely along with a hand held upon either side. If you had neither you were in a bad way, you just fell down and did not belong anywhere, and if you only had one you only half belonged.
"Zachary," said the boy.
"Only Zachary?"
"Only Zachary."
"Just a Christian name?"
"That's all."
Stella looked at him with concern. Only God had hold of him. He was lopsided. She had noticed it in his gait when she first saw him walking. Then she remembered that but for Father and Mother Sprigg she would have been lopsided too, for her nameless mother had died. This memory deepened her feeling of oneness with Zachary, and she put out a small hand and laid it on his knee.
"Do you know where you come from?" she asked wonderingly.
"From the moon," replied Zachary promptly. "Haven't you seen me up there?" .....
"Zachary Moon," she said with pleasure, and felt she had got him a bit better supported upon the other side.

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
"Whatever comes," she said, "cannot alter one thing. If I am a princess in rags and tatters, I can be a princess inside. It would be easy to be a princess if I were dressed in cloth of gold, but it is a great deal more of a triumph to be one all the time, when no one knows it."

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
"As she came closer to him she noticed that there was a fresh clean scent of heather and leaves and grass about him, almost as if he were made from them. She liked it very much, and when she looked into his funny face with the red cheeks and round blue eyes, she forgot that she had felt shy."

 Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
"For we pay a price for everything we get or take in this world; and although ambitions are well worth having, they are not to be cheaply won, but exact their dues of work and self-denial, anxiety and discouragement."

The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis
“It is as hard to explain how this sunlit land was different from the old Narnia as it would be to tell you how the fruits of that country taste. Perhaps you will get some idea of it if you think like this. You may have been in a room in which there was a window that looked out on a lovely bay of the sea or a green valley that wound away among mountains. And in the wall of that room opposite to the window there may have been a looking-glass. And as you turned away from the window you suddenly caught sight of that sea or that valley, all over again, in the looking glass. And the sea in the mirror, or the valley in the mirror, were in one sense just the same as the real ones: yet at the same time they were somehow different - deeper, more wonderful, more like places in a story: in a story you have never heard but very much want to know. The difference between the old Narnia and the new Narnia was like that. The new one was a deeper country: every rock and flower and blade of grass looked as if it meant more.” 
The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis
“Then two wonders happened at the same moment. One was that the voice was suddenly joined by other voices; more voices than you could possibly count. They were in harmony with it, but far higher up the scale: cold, tingling, silvery voices. The second wonder was that the blackness overhead, all at once, was blazing with stars. They didn’t come out gently one by one, as they do on a summer evening. One moment there had been nothing but darkness; next moment a thousand, thousand points of light leaped out – single stars, constellations, and planets, brighter and bigger than any in our world. There were no clouds. The new stars and the new voices began at exactly the same time. If you had seen and heard it, as Digory did, you would have felt quite certain that it was the stars themselves which were singing, and that it was the First Voice, the deep one, which had made them appear and made them sing.”

 The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis
“One word, Ma'am," he said, coming back from the fire; limping, because of the pain. "One word. All you've been saying is quite right, I shouldn't wonder. I'm a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won't deny any of what you said. But there's one more thing to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things-trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that's a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We're just babies making up a game, if you're right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That's why I'm going to stand by the play world. 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. So, thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we're leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that's a small loss if the world's as dull a place as you say.”
Oh mercy. I could go on and on with C.S. Lewis' Narnia all day...that man had the elusive knack for tacking down an idea with just the right word so you can practically smell what he means. :) I hope you enjoyed reading these quotes. :) What are some of your favorites? ~Rachel


Abigail Hartman said...

I have read every book you quoted from except the first, Gentian Hill, but oh, does it sound cute! Zachary Moon... That's a great excerpt, Rachel. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Oh, Rachel, I believe you have stolen my mind. Again. I shouldn't think it was the first time, but this time your timing is amazingly uncanny...

I did this yesterday. I dragged out one of my large volumes of The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (I've gotten into the habit of collecting them), and wrote down pages and pages of quotes -- mostly from our dear Dickens -- in my little black notebook. It brightened my sickly little day. Reading this post did also. ^.^

"... his funny face with the red cheeks and round blue eyes ..."

Dickon. Oh, Dickon. He's just so perfectly right somehow. And I have such fond, fond memories of reading that book... But that's a story for another time. ^.^

Rachel Heffington said...

:) I'm glad it cheered you, Katie dear. Dickon is near and dear to me. I have always longed to meet fact, I have a secret plot to name my first son Dickon. *NEVER* to be called "Dick", and he'll grow up smelling like leaves and heather and grass and have round cheeks and rusty-colored hair. :D I am a goose, but Frances Hodgson Burnett brought him too much to life to be confined to the pages of literature. :D

Always Narnian said...

Ah, I love those C.S. Lewis quotes, especially the Puddleglum one. I don't have the book right by at the moment, but I love the qoute from the Last Battle where it says that all the years in Narnia was just the title page..And now they were only begining....I love it! :)

Horse Lover said...

Ahh, Narnia is indeed a masterpiece.