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Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

Where can we live but days?

steepholm steepholm
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Murdoch's Press
A couple of weeks ago they were regularly trailing the Iris Murdoch season on BBC Radio 4, and one line in the trailer ran: "He [perhaps "she"] was the kind of person who lived for others. You could tell the others by their haunted expression." This is of course a mangled quotation from C. S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters, if memory serves), so what was it doing in a trailer for Murdoch? It's not as if Murdoch didn't come up with some memorable thoughts and lines of her own.

If anyone happened to hear the programme in which it was actually used I'd be interested to know the context, and whether it was misattributed. (I can imagine Murdoch quoting it and then someone assuming it was her own, for example.)

For the record, I'm not sure how well Murdoch knew Lewis, though I believe she gave a paper at the Socratic club during his tenure as President.

You saw my post noting that the new movie on Steve Jobs stole a quip from the musical 1776? The timing would make it possible that it's the character who says it who stole it. Certainly if I were in that character's position I would have stolen the same line.

An atheist of my unfortunately close acquaintance, whose sole interest is in mocking Christian belief, quoted a line from CSL that he claimed proved his point. Since he wouldn't read a book by Lewis that would answer his questions even when I physically pressed that book upon him, I knew he'd just reflexively picked the line up from some atheist website. The line was from Mere Christianity and in context it says that opposite of what they supposed. (It would be long and tiresome to dig out the exact line and explain the context: I'm just relaying this as an anecdote.)

I saw the post, but haven't seen the musical - however, I would assume it's part of the exchange about making the world on a tight schedule? That seemed the only quotable part to me.

I need to make a tag for my entries about misattributions. In our age, a lie is retweeted round the world while the truth is still booting its hard drive.

May I please quote that? Widely?

My little boots/booting joke? Be my guest - I think it's my own...

I think the 'haunted expression' joke is Saki...

Lewis certainly used it, but Screwtape may have been quoting his favourite short story. It's drifting further and further from Iris Murdoch, at any rate...

Screwtape was quoting, certainly, or said he was (though Lewis was not above making up quotations). "A sensible human once said, "If people knew how much ill-feeling unselfishness occasions, it would not be so often recommended from the pulpit"; and again, "She's the sort of woman who lives for others; you can always tell the others by their hunted expression." "

I can't find either quotation in anyone else's text (and have found evidence of other people searching and being unsuccessful), but it's possible Lewis paraphrased enough that they're not directly searchable.