Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A very interesting and honest preface

TD Bank's grumpy old menWhen Mr. Ashley Sampson suggested to me the writing of this book [The Problem of Pain], I asked leave to be allowed to write it anonymously, since, if I were to say what I really thought about pain, I should be forced to make statements of such apparent fortitude that they would become ridiculous if anyone knew who made them. Anonymity was rejected as inconsistent with the series; but Mr. Sampson pointed out that I could write a preface explaining that I did not live up to my own principles! This exhilarating programme I am now carrying out. Let me confess at once, in the words of good Walter Hilton, that throughout this book ‘I feel myself so far from true feeling of that I speak, that I can naught else but cry mercy and desire after it as I may’. Yet for that very reason there is one criticism which cannot be brought against me. No one can say ‘He jests at scars who never felt a wound’, for I have never for one moment been in a state of mind to which even the imagination of serious pain was less than intolerable. If any man is safe from the danger of underestimating this adversary, I am that man. I must add, too, that the only purpose of the book is to solve the intellectual problem raised by suffering; for the far higher task of teaching fortitude and patience I was never fool enough to suppose myself qualified, nor have I anything to offer my readers except my conviction that when pain is to be borne, a little courage helps more than much knowledge, a little human sympathy more than much courage, and the least tincture of the love of God more than all.

C.S. Lewis, Preface, The Problem of Pain (1940; reprinted New York: HarperCollins Signature Edition, 2001) xi-xii.

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