Saturday, June 08, 2013

T.H. White quotes from 'The Once and Future King'

I recently finished reading T. H. White's The Once and Future King, and I took note of several texts within the novel which I found of interest and worth pointing out to others. Here they go:

"The best thing for being sad," replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, "is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then -- to learn."

Merlin to Arthur: "You have become the king of a domain in which the popular agitators hate each other for racial reasons, while the nobility fight each other for fun, and neither the racial maniac nor the overlord stops to consider the lot of the common soldier, who is the one person that gets hurt."

Elaine to Guenevere concerning Lancelot: "Yes, he is mad," she said. "You have won him, and you have broken him. What will you do with him next?"

Arthur: "Long ago, when I had my Merlyn to help, he tried to teach me to think. He knew he would have to leave in the end, so he forced me to think for myself. Don't ever let anybody teach you to think, Lance: it is the curse of the world."

Arthur: " ... when a moral sense begins to rot it is worse than when you had none."

Sir Lionel to Arthur: "You know," he said, "it's all very well to take up with morals and dogmas, so long as there is only yourself in it: but what are you to do when other people join the muddle?"

"Funny," said Lancelot, "how the people who can't pray say that prayers are not answered, however much the people who can pray say they are."

"But women are cruel in this way. They do not accept excuses."

4 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

"Don't let anyone teach you to think." I like that very much, and it dovetails with my need for cognition post. I have this book but have never read it. I should get to that.

Ty Johnston said...

Thanks, Charles. I was somewhat amused when I saw your blog post of a few days about thinking because it tied in so well with some of the depths of this book.

Virginia Llorca said...

"What will you do with him next?" spoke my muse.

I think the Arthurian legends have had a huge impact on literature as themselves and as influences.

Ty Johnston said...

Oh, I agree, Virginia. For instance, without the Arthur mythos, fantasy literature today might not exist, or at least it could be quite different.