Lloyd Alexander

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Is there not glory enough in living the days given to us? You should know there is adventure in simply being among those we love and the things we love, and beauty, too.

Lloyd Chudley Alexander (January 30, 1924May 17, 2007) was a widely-influential American author of more than forty books, mostly fantasy novels for children and adolescents, as well as several adult books. His most famous contribution to the field of children's literature is the fantasy series The Chronicles of Prydain.

Quotes[edit]

  • Laws assure animals of protection – formally, officially, set down in black and white. But in the long run, the best protection is the human heart.
    • Fifty Years in the Doghouse (1964), p. 256

The Chronicles of Prydain (1964–1973)[edit]

Book I: The Book of Three (1964)[edit]

Once you have courage to look upon evil, seeing it for what it is and naming it by its true name, it is powerless against you, and you can destroy it.
It is not the trappings that make the prince, nor, indeed, the sword that makes the warrior.
  • Most of us are called on to perform tasks far beyond what we believe we can do. Our capabilities seldom match our aspirations, and we are often woefully unprepared. To this extent, we are all Assistant Pig-Keepers at heart.
    • Author's Note
  • Well, that is one of the three foundations of learning: see much, study much, suffer much.
    • Chapter 1
  • "Why?" Dallben interrupted. "In some cases," he said, "we learn more by looking for the answer to a question and not finding it than we do from learning the answer itself."
    • Chapter 1
  • It is not the trappings that make the prince, nor, indeed, the sword that makes the warrior.
    • Chapter 2
  • The task counts more than the one who does it.
    • Chapter 2
  • "I don't even know who I am."
    "In a way," answered Gwydion, "that is something we must all discover for ourselves."
    • Chapter 2
  • "I can't make sense out of that girl," he said to the bard. "Can you?"
    "Never mind," Fflewddur said. "We aren't really expected to."
    • Chapter 12
  • "Neither refuse to give help when it is needed," Medwyn continued, "nor refuse to accept it when it is offered."
    • Chapter 13
  • "This is a place of peace," Medwyn said, "and therefore not suitable for men, at least, not yet."
    • Chapter 13
  • Once you have courage to look upon evil, seeing it for what it is and naming it by its true name, it is powerless against you, and you can destroy it.
    • Chapter 19

Book II: The Black Cauldron (1965)[edit]

I have learned there is greater honor in a field well plowed than in a field steeped in blood.
The more we find to love, the more we add to the measure of our hearts.
In most of us good and bad are closely woven as the threads on a loom; greater wisdom than mine is needed for the judging.
  • Even in a fantasy realm, growing up is accomplished not without cost.
    • Author's Note
  • "A pig is a pig," said the stranger, "and a pig-boy is a pig-boy."
    • Chapter 1 (Ellidyr)
  • We hold each other’s lives in our open hands, not in clenched fists.
    • Chapter 2
  • "I have marched in many a battle host," Adaon answered quietly, "but I have also planted seeds and reaped the harvest with my own hands. And I have learned there is greater honor in a field well plowed than in a field steeped in blood."
    • Chapter 3
  • “There is much to be known,” said Adaon, “and above all much to be loved, be it the turn of the seasons or the shape of a river pebble. Indeed, the more we find to love, the more we add to the measure of our hearts.
    • Chapter 3
  • There is truth in all things, if you understand them well.
    • Chapter 3
  • Is there not glory enough in living the days given to us? You should know there is adventure in simply being among those we love and the things we love, and beauty, too.
    • Chapter 8
  • We’re neither good nor evil. We’re simply interested in things as they are.
    • Chapter 14
  • “It is easy to judge evil unmixed,” replied Gwydion. “But, alas, in most of us good and bad are closely woven as the threads on a loom; greater wisdom than mine is needed for the judging.
    • Chapter 20

Book III: The Castle of Llyr (1966)[edit]

  • Child, child, do you not see? For each of us comes a time when we must be more than what we are.
    • Chapter 1
  • “So you say, so you say,” murmured Fflewddur, hurrying after him. “Look closer into your heart. You may find your opinion to be somewhat different.”
    • Chapter 5
  • The destinies of men are woven one with the other, and you can turn aside from them no more than you can turn aside from your own.
    • Chapter 19

Book IV: Taran Wanderer (1967)[edit]

Life is one thing more. It is clay to be shaped, as raw clay on a potter’s wheel.
  • Speak up, my boy. If you want truth, you should begin by giving it.
    • Chapter 1
  • “Believe what you like. You'll be surprised how comforting it is.”
    “I ask no comfort,” Taran replied, “but the truth, be it harsh or happy.”
    • Chapter 1
  • In the race of men is much greed and envy; but of truth, little.
    • Chapter 8 (Morda)
  • If I do find pride, I'll not find it in what I was or what I am, but what I may become. Not in my birth, but in myself.
    • Chapter 16
  • If I fret over tomorrow, I'll have little joy today.
    • Chapter 17 (Llonio)
  • If life is a loom, the pattern you weave is not so easily unraveled.
    • Chapter 18 (Dwyvach)
  • Craftsmanship isn’t like water in an earthen pot, to be taken out by the dipperful until it’s empty. No, the more drawn out the more remains.
    • Chapter 19 (Annlaw)
  • “Count yourself lucky,” the potter went on, “that you have understood this now and not spent your years in vain hope. This much have you learned, and no learning is wasted.”
    • Chapter 19 (Annlaw)
  • “When I was a child I dreamed of adventure, glory, honor in feats of arms. I think now that these things are shadows.”
    “If you see them as shadows then you see them for what they are,” Annlaw agreed. “Many have pursued honor, and in the pursuit lost more of it than ever they could gain.
    • Chapter 21
  • “Llonio said life was a net for luck; to Hevydd the Smith life was a forge; and to Dwyvach the Weaver-Woman a loom. They spoke truly, for it is all of these. But you,” Taran said, his eyes meeting the potter’s, “you have shown me life is one thing more. It is clay to be shaped, as raw clay on a potter’s wheel.
    • Chapter 21

Book V : The High King (1968)[edit]

Draw Dyrnwyn, only thou of noble worth, to rule with justice, to strike down evil. Who wields it in good cause shall slay even the Lord of Death.
The Book of Three can say no more than ‘if’ until at the end, of all things that might have been, one alone becomes what really is.
The deeds of a man, not the words of a prophecy, are what shape his destiny.
  • A crown is more discomfort than adornment. If you have learned that, you have already learned much.
    • Chapter 1 (Dallben)
  • This much have I learned: A man’s life weighs more than glory, and a price paid in blood is a heavy reckoning.
    • Chapter 3 (Taran)
  • Take this as a gift from a crone to a maiden, and know there is not so much difference between the two. For even a tottering granddam keeps a portion of girlish heart, and the youngest maiden a thread of old woman’s wisdom.
    • Chapter 9 (Dwyvach to Eilonwy)
  • “You are the oaken staff I lean on,” Taran said. “More than that.” He laughed. “You are the whole sturdy tree, and a true warrior.”
    Coll, instead of beaming, looked wryly at him. “Do you mean to honor me?” he asked. “Then say, rather, I am a true grower of turnips, and a gatherer of apples. No warrior whatever, save that I am needed thus for a while. My garden longs for me as much as I long for it.
    • Chapter 9
  • A crown is a pitiless master, harsher than the staff of a pig-keeper; while a staff bears up, a crown weighs down, beyond the strength of any man to wear it lightly.
    • Chapter 10 (King Math)
  • Is there worse evil than that which goes in the mask of good?
    • Chapter 11 (p. 142)
  • Are these signs of hope, or do we deceive ourselves by wishing them to be?
    • Chapter 15 (Taran)
  • Draw Dyrnwyn, only thou of noble worth, to rule with justice, to strike down evil. Who wields it in good cause shall slay even the Lord of Death.
    • The runic inscription upon the scabbard of Dyrnwyn, correctly read by the bard Taliesin, in Chapter 19
  • Orgoch gave a most ungentle snort. Orddu, meanwhile, had unfolded a length of brightly woven tapestry and held it out to Taran.
    “We came to bring you this, my duckling,” she said. “Take it and pay no heed to Orgoch’s grumbling. She’ll have to swallow her disappointment—for lack of anything better.”
    “I have seen this on your loom,” Taran said, more than a little distrustful. “Why do you offer it to me? I do not ask for it, nor can I pay for it.”
    “It is yours by right, my robin,” answered Orddu. “It does come from our loom, if you insist on strictest detail, but it was really you who wove it.”
    Puzzled, Taran looked more closely at the fabric and saw it crowded with images of men and women, of warriors and battles, of birds and animals. “These,” he murmured in wonder, “these are of my own life.”
    “Of course,” Orddu replied. “The pattern is of your choosing and always was.”
    “My choosing?” Taran questioned. “Not yours? Yet I believed...” He stopped and raised his eyes to Orddu. “Yes,” he said slowly, “once I did believe the world went at your bidding. I see now it is not so. The strands of life are not woven by three hags or even by three beautiful damsels. The pattern indeed was mine. But here,” he added, frowning as he scanned the final portion of the fabric where the weaving broke off and the threads fell unraveled, “here it is unfinished.”
    “Naturally,” said Orddu. “You must still choose the pattern, and so must each of you poor, perplexed fledglings, as long as thread remains to be woven.”
    • Chapter 20
  • “Long ago I yearned to be a hero without knowing, in truth, what a hero was. Now, perhaps, I understand it a little better. A grower of turnips or a shaper of clay, a Commot farmer or a king — every man is a hero if he strives more for others than for himself alone. Once,” he added, “you told me that the seeking counts more than the finding. So, too, must the striving count more than the gain.
    “Once, I hoped for a glorious destiny,” Taran went on, smiling at his own memory. “That dream has vanished with my childhood; and though a pleasant dream it was fit only for a child. I am well content as an Assistant Pig-Keeper.
    • Chapter 21
  • “How then?” Taran asked. “Could The Book of Three deceive you?”
    “No, it could not.” Dallben said. “The book is thus called because it tells all three parts of our lives: the past, the present, and the future. But it could as well be called a book of ‘if.’ If you had failed at your tasks; if you had followed an evil path; if you had been slain; if you had not chosen as you did — a thousand ‘ifs,’ my boy, and many times a thousand. The Book of Three can say no more than ‘if’ until at the end, of all things that might have been, one alone becomes what really is. For the deeds of a man, not the words of a prophecy, are what shape his destiny.
    • Chapter 21
  • “Dyrnwyn is yours,” Gwydion said, “as it was meant to be.”
    “Yet Arawn is slain,” Taran replied. “Evil is conquered and the blade’s work done.”
    “Evil conquered?” said Gwydion. “You have learned much, but learn this last and hardest of lessons. You have conquered only the enchantments of evil. That was the easiest of your tasks, only a beginning, not an ending. Do you believe evil itself so quickly overcome? Not so long as men still hate and slay each other, when greed and anger goad them. Against these even a flaming sword cannot prevail, but only that portion of good in all men’s hearts whose flame can never be quenched.
    • Chapter 21
  • Evil cannot be conquered by wishing.
    • Chapter 21
  • And so they lived many happy years, and the promised tasks were accomplished. Yet long afterward, when all had passed away into distant memory, there were many who wondered whether King Taran, Queen Eilonwy, and their companions had indeed walked the earth, or whether they had been no more than dreams in a tale set down to beguile children. And, in time, only the bards knew the truth of it.
    • Chapter 21 (closing words)


Attributed[edit]

  • Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It's a way of understanding it.
    • Attributed to Lloyd Alexander in J. Hamilton, You Write It: Fantasy (2001), p. 4

External links[edit]

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