Your Favorite Lines
Lewis was an incredible writer and many lines in Chronicles of Narnia are pure poetry, either by the depth of their meaning, the images they evoke in our minds or the way that they make us feel. I have been rereading The Silver Chair as of late, and in chapter twelve ran across a line that may well be my absolute favorite in the entire series:
Then came the Witch's voice, cooing softly like the voice of a wood-pigeon from the high elms in an old garden at three o'clock in the middle of a sleepy, summer afternoon, and it said: "What is this sun that you all speak of?"
It's so good... I nearly put down my book and cheered when I got to that bit this morning. It perfectly describes the atmosphere created by her voice and the effect of it on Rilian and his rescuers. It is by far one of the most effective descriptions that I have ever read.
What are your favorite lines?
Rose. And it is, of course, extra-chilling because the simile Lewis uses is in such opposition to the deadly reality of the situation.
I have a number of favourite lines from the Chronicles and will have to post them periodically. Great idea for a topic!
Just briefly, I so love his descriptions: places like the Wood between the Worlds, for example. And the Founding/Creation of Narnia ... relatively simple (compared to Tolkien ) but no less powerful and evocative.
But I should post one favourite (out of many) before heading off ...
"There's no knowing . But courage, child: we are all between the paws of the true Aslan."
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One of the first ones that comes to mind is in The Horse and His Boy when Shasta is speaking with Aslan as he's crossing the mountain pass in to Narnia. The entire scene is one of my favorite in the series, but this bit from Aslan has always stood out to me.
“I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comfroted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you as you slept. I was the lion who gave the Horses the new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the baot in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.”
I don't exactly know why this part always sticks out to me. Perhaps it's because Shasta is my favorite character in the series and the character that I relate to the most, and that everything happens for a reason, even if we can't see it at the time.
Another one is Rilian's ravings when he is bound to the chair. I love his almost shakespearean way of speaking and Lewis does such an amazing job of making the reader feel the torment Rilian's going though which for me makes it even more satisfying when he is free and destroys the chair.
"Enchantments, enchant-ments... the heavy, tangled, cold, clammy web of evil magic. Buried alive. Dragged down under the earth, down into the sooty blackness... how many years is it?... Have I lived ten years, or a thousand years, in the pit? Maggotmen all around me. Oh, have mercy. Let me out, let me go back. Let me feel the wind and see the sky... There used to be a little pool. When you looked down into it you could see all the trees growing upside-down in the water, all green and below them, deep, vary deep, the blue sky.
One last one is the opening line of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Lewis tell us a lot about Eustace as a character in just one sentence, and it's the most memorable opening to any book I've never read.
There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.
Love those quotes, Jo and narnia fan 7! I've been rereading HHB these past few days and I love that Aslan quote especially, fan 7. It really does give you chills when you read it.
When finishing up The Silver Chair the other day, I found myself really loving the last lines of the book:
The opening into the hillside was left open, and often in hot summer days the Narnians go in there with ships and lanterns and go down to the water and sail to and fro, singing, on the cool, dark underground sea, telling each other stories of the cities that lie fathoms deep below. If ever you have the luck to go to Narnia yourself, do not forget to have a look at those caves.
Of course the ending lines of The Last Battle are my favorite, but this ending is definitely my second favorite in CoN! I love how Lewis would often say things in a way as if he'd actually been to Narnia himself... even as an adult, sometimes he still makes me wonder.
My favourite lines from the Narnia series are legion, but two that immediately spring to mind is this description of Reepicheep (which I reference in my signature ):
For his mind was full of forlorn hopes, death-or-glory charges, and last stands.
It's a one sentence explanation of why Reepicheep is my favourite character of all time. He is the embodiment of chivalry and I will never get over how awesome he is.
And the other is Puddleglum's epic speech in Underland. I'll quote it in full because it's that amazing:
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 thing more 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.
The battle-cry of my soul.
Ah, that Puddleglum quote is the climax of my favorite part of The Silver Chair, Reepicheep775... the whole enchanted conversation is so gripping, and Puddleglum's actions and words in the midst of that darkness are awe-inspiring. I am truly amazed at how Lewis manages to capture something so transcendental as Sehnsucht in such plainspoken language. If any character in CoN has a "magnum opus" moment, then I think it must be Puddleglum's speech.
And ditto on the quote in your signature! I'm frequently dazzled by how Lewis was able to say so much in so few words. Two of my other favorite Reepicheep-related quotes:
"My own plans are made. While I can, I sail east in the Dawn Treader. When she fails me, I paddle east in my coracle. When she sinks, I shall swim east with my four paws. And when I can swim no longer, if I have not reached Aslan’s country, or shot over the edge of the world in some vast cataract, I shall sink with my nose to the sunrise and Peepiceek will be head of the talking mice in Narnia."
"A dragon has just flown over the tree-tops and lighted on the beach. Yes, I am afraid it is between us and the ship. And arrows are no use against dragons. And they're not at all afraid of fire."
"With your Majesty's leave—" began Reepicheep.
"No, Reepicheep," said the King very firmly, "you are not to attempt a single combat with it."
The first quote has a beautiful cadence and is a perfect example of Reepicheep's incredible bravery and zeal for seeking the unknown, and the second always sticks in my mind because the thought of a mouse challenging a dragon to single combat is impossible to forget. It's no wonder that Reepicheep was the Narnian that welcomed the newcomers to Aslan's Country in The Last Battle... he is truly one of Lewis's greatest characters!
Since today is the 60th anniversary of The Last Battle being published. I thought that I would share a couple of my favorite quotes.
Ever since I first read the book, this short line just after Farsight tells Tirian and the others about the sacking of Cair Paravel has been one of the most memorable in the series to me.
“So,” said the King, after a long silence, “Narnia is no more.”
It take me back to when I was 10 years old reading the book for the first time. I remember stop reading at that point to digest what I had just read and this line kept repeating in my mind, so I guess I kind of unintentionally burned it in to my own head.
“I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now...Come further up, come further in!”
This may be my favorite line in the whole book and one of the most powerful in the series. For me it's the great payoff to the underlying theme of longing for one's true home and the joy of ultimately finding it that runs thigh all 7 books to varying degrees. Also it's just a vary powerful line and I love the wording of it.
Have always loved this bit from Magician's Nephew:
"But please, please--won't you--can't you give me something that will cure Mother?" Up till then he had been looking at the Lion's great front feet and the huge claws on them; now, in his despair, he looked up at its face. What he saw surprised him as much as anything in his whole life. For the tawny face was bent down near his own and (wonder of wonders) great shining tears stood in the Lion's eyes. they were such big, bright tears compared with Digory's own that for a moment he felt as if the Lion must really be sorrier about his Mother than he was himself.
And then this:
"And Digory could say nothing, for tears choked him and he gave up all hopes of saving his Mother's life; but at the same time he knew that the Lion knew what would have happened, and that there might be things more terrible even than losing someone you love by death. But now Aslan was speaking again, almost in a whisper:
"That is what would have happened, child, with a stolen apple. It is not what will happen now. What I give you now will bring joy. It will not, in your world, give endless life, but it will heal. Go. Pluck her an apple from the Tree."
Now my days are swifter than a post: they flee away ... my days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle
That Tirian quote always makes my breath catch in my throat, narnia fan 7! And I love Jewel's joy in that second quote; that's another excellent example of Sehnsucht in the series. I also love the line where he says that the reason they had loved Narnia so was because it sometimes reminded them a little of Aslan's Country. I really hope that quote makes it into The Last Battle film word for word.
Those quotes are beloved by me as well, aileth. They are some of the few moments in the series that make me cry... there is a rawness of emotion that I think must come from the death of Lewis's own mother in his childhood. I lost a parent at a young age and I have found so much comfort in the Lion's tears. (Digory and Aslan here remind me a little of anguished Mary and weeping Jesus outside Lazarus's tomb: an even deeper well of comfort.)
I made a note of these lovely quotes when reading some of Prince Caspian this morning...
"This is lovely," said Lucy to herself. It was cool and fresh; delicious smells were floating everywhere. Somewhere close by she heard the twitter of a nightingale beginning to sing, then stopping, then beginning again. It was a little lighter ahead. She went toward the light and came to a place where there were fewer trees, and whole patches or pools of moonlight, but the moonlight and the shadows were so mixed that you could hardly be sure where anything was or what it was. At the same moment the nightingale, satisfied at last with his tuning up, burst into full song.
When I read this, I really feel what Lucy is feeling in this scene... so quiet and wondering and dream-like. Sometimes it feels as though Lewis has the power to draw me right into Narnia with his writing!
For an afternoon's ramble ending in a picnic tea it would have been delightful. It had everything you could want on an occasion of that sort—rumbling waterfalls, silver cascades, deep, amber-coloured pools, mossy rocks, and deep moss on the banks in which you could sink over your ankles, every kind of fern, jewel-like dragonflies, sometimes a hawk overhead and once (Peter and Trumpkin both thought) an eagle.
It's a holiday in the US today and that paragraph made me want to make a beeline for the babbling creek at my local park! Such a beautiful description.
@Rose and narnia fan 7: Reepicheep's line about sailing East and Jewel's line about finally finding his home are also some of my favourites. The whole concept of sehnsucht seems to be one of the unifying ideas in the Chronicles and it's probably the biggest reason why the Narnia books are my favourite books of all time. Because of that, they hit me on a level deeper than most books could ever dream of.
It kind of surprises me how little sehnsucht is talked or written about (there isn't even an English equivalent!). Obviously, I only have my own experiences to go by, but like Lewis, it feels like the most important thing I've ever experienced. I suspect that the feeling is far more universal than most people let on. Certainly the few times I've mustered the courage to talk about those feelings with other people, they've expressed similar feelings. So why aren't more people talking about it? How can such a powerful aspect of the human experience, perhaps the most powerful, be so underrepresented in human conversation, writings, literature etc.? Lewis seems to be one of the few authors to tackle it head on.
Anyhow, another one of my favourite lines is when Dr. Cornelius reveals to Caspian that he is part Dwarf:
All at once Caspian realized the truth and felt that he ought to have realized it long before. Doctor Cornelius was so small, and so fat, and had such a very long beard. Two thoughts came into his head at the same moment. One was a thought of terror - "He's not a real man, not a man at all, he's a Dwarf, and he's brought me up here to kill me." The other was sheer delight - "There are real Dwarfs still, and I've seen one at last."
I'm very much in agreement with all that you said about sehnsucht, Reepicheep! It actually inspired me to start a thread in the Man Behind the Wardrobe about Lewis and his relation to this topic. Honestly, there needed to be a topic about sehnsucht on that subforum, given how significantly it figures into his work.
And ditto on that quote where Doctor Cornelius reveals himself... I especially love it because Caspian's thought process is exactly how I would react!
Other favorites that I marked as I was concluding Prince Caspian:
A dull, gray voice at which Peter's flesh crept replied, "I'm hunger. I'm thirst. Where I bite, I hold till I die, and even after death they must cut out my mouthful from my enemy's body and bury it with me. I can fast a hundred years and not die. I can lie a hundred nights on the ice and not freeze. I can drink a river of blood and not burst. Show me your enemies."
I think this quote here is the creepiest one in the entire series; it always make me shiver and recoil. I would not want to meet this fellow on a moonlit night, or any other night for that matter.
[The tree people] drank very little wine, and it made the Hollies very talkative: for the most part they quenched their thirst with deep drafts of mingled dew and rain, flavored with forest flowers and the airy taste of the thinnest clouds.
Does anyone else really want to taste this?
And of course there's this one:
"Aslan," said Lucy, "you're bigger."
"That is because you are older, little one," answered he.
"Not because you are?"
"I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger."
Lots of lines from Silver Chair!
Aslan: “You would not have called to me unless I had been calling to you."
Puddleglum's speech of course: “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... But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow."
“Aslan's instructions always work; there are no exceptions.”
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I realized something kind of funny the other day when I was thinking about some of my favorite scenes in the Chronicles... it seems like half of my favorite lines involve BIRDS.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: "And oh, the cry of the seagulls! Have you heard it? Can you remember?"
Prince Caspian: "At the same moment the nightingale, satisfied at last with his tuning up, burst into full song."
The Silver Chair: "Then came the Witch's voice, cooing softly like the voice of a wood-pigeon..."
I'm not sure what to do with this information. Am I supposed to become a birdwatcher...?
In all seriousness, Lewis was a master of nudging some memory, or feeling, by telling the reader about a sound or smell. One of my other very favorite lines — not related to birds — is this one from The Silver Chair, when Jill and Eustace are talking behind the gym: "The [rain] drops dripped off the laurel leaves."
Just reading that instantly reminds me of being outside on a rainy day, the smell of damp earth and the sound of rain softly pattering on the trees... and suddenly I'm there with Eustace and Jill and it all feel so real that it takes my breath away. It's such a simple line, but for me it's like a spell that transports me right into the book.
Of course, my favorite has to be Puddleglum's diehard speech about living like a Narnian even if there isn't any Narnia.
I also love Glenstorm's great line in Prince Caspian :"I and my sons are ready for war! Where is the battle to be joined?"
That just sets off the action of the book for me. No one else had really been thinking seriously about all out war, but this centaur just gets right to the point as soon as he meets Caspian. It's a line almost worthy of Reepicheep - which is a compliment even to a centaur!
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Such a Great topic! I have so many favorite lines!
From The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe: Peter's first Battle
“Rise up, Sir Peter Wolf’s-Bane. And, whatever happens, never forget
to wipe your sword.”
From The Silver Chair: The Parliament of Owls
"But when the axe was raised, Caspian suddenly threw it away and cried out, "I have lost my queen and my son: shall I lose my friend also?" And he fell upon the Lord Drinian's neck and embraced him and both wept, and their friendship was not broken."
From The Last Battle: Farewell to the Shadow Lands (a quite bittersweet ending)
"But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the
Great Story, which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before."
From The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: The very end of the World
"This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know
me better there."
From Prince Caspian: The return of the Lion
"To know what would have happened, child?" said Aslan. "No.
Nobody is ever told that."
"Oh dear," said Lucy.
"But anyone can find out what will happen," said Aslan"
From The Horse and his Boy: How Bree became a wiser horse (One of my favorite quotes)
"No-one is told any story but their own."
Lastly my Favorite Quote of all time from Horse and his Boy
"But even a traitor may mend. I have known one that did." - King Edmund
This really sums up why Edmund is my favorite character. Learning from his mistakes and becoming a better king because of it.
"But even a traitor may mend. I have known one that did." - (King Edmund the Just, Horse and his Boy)