November 29, 2006: Lewis on Good Poetry and the Proper Usage of Rhetoric - 0 Comments

"Music means not the noises it is nice to make, but the noises it is nice to hear. Good poetry means not the poetry men like composing, but the poetry men like to listen to or to read."

"First, as to Manipulation. I do not think (and no great civilization has ever thought) that the art of the retorician is necessarily vile. It is in itself noble, though of course, like most arts, it can be wickedly used. . . Both [Poetry and Rhetoric] do it by using language to control what already exists in our minds. . . It is honestly practised when the orator honestly believes that the thing which he calls the passions to support is reason, and usefully practised when this belief of his is in fact correct. It is mischievously practised when that which he summons the passions to aid is, in fact, unreason, and dishonestly practised when he himself knows it is unreason. The proper use is lawful and necessary because, as Aristotle points out, the intellect of itself 'moves nothing': the transition from thinking to doing, in nearly all men at nearly all moments, needs to be assisted by appropriate states of feeling."

November 27, 2006: Lewis on reading poetry for 'good lines' - 0 Comments

"The misunderstanding of the genus (narrative poetry) I have learned from looking into used copies of our great narrative poems. In them you find often enough a number of not very remarkable lines underscored with pencil in the first two pages, and all the rest of the book virgin."

November 15, 2006: Pushkin on love letters - 0 Comments

"Lizaveta read it. The letter contained a declaration of love; it was tender, respectful, and copied word for word from a German novel."

- Pushkin, The Queen of Spades, 1834

November 2, 2006: Dickens on the Whole Duty of Man (and digestive organs) - 0 Comments

-'You lead such a busy life?'
-'Yes, I always have some of'em to look up, or something to look after. But I like business,' said Pancks, getting on a little faster. 'What's a man made for?'
-'For nothing else?' said Clennam.
Pancks put the counter question, 'What else?' . . . 'Here am I,' said Pancks, pursuing his argument with the weekly tenant. 'What else do you suppose I am made for? Nothing. Rattle me out of bed early, set me going, give me as short a time as you like to bolt my meals in, and keep me at it. Keep me always at it, and I'll keep you always at it, you keep somebody else at it. There you are with the Whole Duty of Man in a commercial country.'"

"If Young John had ever slackened in his truth in the less penetrable days of his boyhood, when youth is prone to wear its boots unlaced and is happily unconscious of digestive organs, he had soon strung it up again and screwed it tight."

- Dickens, Little Dorrit, 1856