Confirming C.S. Lewis Quotations (INTRODUCTION)

This is the official introduction to an occasional series exploring quotations attributed to C.S. Lewis that are questionable for one reason or another. There is an “at a glance” page HERE to quickly see what has been posted so far in this series. 

INTRODUCTION

Why Care?

The first thought some people have when they hear a quotations attributed to C.S. Lewis may not be by him, or that the quote as it is presented is too isolated from its context, is WHO CARES? Obviously, I do and in addition to many others that I know do, I hope you will as well.

Categories of Questionable Quotations

To make sure you are clear with what these mean, the following explanations should help:

  1. Not – those falsely attributed to Lewis. Someone else wrote it. Lewis may or may not have written something similar.

  2. Almost – it is either a paraphrase or missing some words or incorrect words, but usually no one else said it as far as we know.

  3. Not Quite – while Lewis wrote it, the quote when isolated means something other than intended (or has the potential to be misunderstood).

Therefore, the quotes I’ll be examining will fall into one of these three categories. In some cases they might fit more than one.

An important principle to keep in mind throughout is that it is best to not just read a quotation by Lewis, but to read the chapter from the book or the entire essay from where it is found. That said, there are many printed resources available to help you locate a quotation by Lewis. They include: The Quotable Lewis and A Mind Awake.

 Next time the first questionable quote will be examined. Until then, to get you thinking in the general direction of how to confirm quotation, consider this:

If I told you that “money is the root of all evil” is in the Bible, would you believe me? I hope not, because that’s not entirely correct. 1 Timothy 6:10 (KJV) – “The love of money is the root of all evil” (emphasis added).

This is obviously an example of an incomplete quotation. It’s missing some important words at the start that makes the meaning very different without them. Thus, we might call this type of misquote, an “almost quote.”

Another example, from the Bible:

This popular expression is credited as being from Proverbs 23:7 -“As a man thinketh in his heart so is he.”

This statement is closest to the King James Version, however that’s not even the entire verse. This part of the verse in the KJV states: “As he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” (That’s only a minor change of one word)

Besides needing the rest of the 7th verse, at least the 6th and 8th are also necessary at minimum to get the proper context. When you read them you find this is not a support for positive thinking. Instead, it is actually a warning to not always trust what others say because they might be thinking the opposite of the words they speak. More modern translations like NIV and NLT make this meaning even clearer.

READ THE NEXT ARTICLE:
Hardships Often Prepare Ordinary People

Updated 8/29/2015

One comment

  1. I immediately spotted “You are a soul” as from A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ.

    Of course, it could be considered a paraphrase of numerous passages from Swedenborg on how every one of us is a spirit.

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