Robertson Davies Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 154 quotes)
Once it was the fashion to represent villages as places inhabited by laughable, livable simpletons, unspotted by the worldliness of city life, though occasionally shrewd in rural concerns. Later it was the popular thing to show villages as rotten with vice, and especially such sexual vice...incest, sodomy, bestiality, sadism, and masochism were supposed to rage behind lace curtains and in the haylofts, while a rigid piety was professed in the streets.
In later life I have been sometimes praised, sometimes mocked, for my way of pointing out the mythical elements that seem to me to underlie our apparently ordinary lives. Certainly that cast of mind had some of its origin in our pit, which had much the character of a Protestant Hell. I was probably the most entranced listener to a sermon the Reverend Andrew Bowyer preached about Gehenna, the hateful valley outside the walls of Jerusalem, where outcasts lived, and where their flickering fires, seen from the city walls, may have given rise to the idea of a hell of perpetual burning. He liked to make his hearers jump, now and then, and he said that our gravel pit was much the same sort of place as Gehenna. My elders thought this far-fetched, but I saw no reason then why hell should not have, so to speak, visible branch establishments throughout the earth, and I have visited quite a few of them since.
... 'But Gold was not all. The other kings bring Frank Innocence and Mirth.' | Darcourt was startled, then delighted. 'That is very fine, Yerko; is it your own?' | 'No, it is in the story. I saw it in New York. The kings say, We bring you Gold, Frank Innocence, and Mirth.' | 'Sancta simplicitas,' said Darcourt, raising his eyes to mine. 'If only there were more Mirth in the message He has left to us. We miss it sadly, in the world we have made. And Frank Innocence. Oh, Yerko, you dear man.' ...
The older I grow the less Christ's teaching says to me. I am sometimes very conscious that I am following the path of a leader who died when He was less than half as old as I am now. I see and feel things He never saw or felt. I know things He seems never to have known. Everybody wants a Christ for himself and those who think like him. Very well, am I at fault for wanting a Christ who will show me how to be an old man? All Christ's teaching is put forward with the dogmatism, the certainty, and the strength of youth: I need something that takes account of the accretion of experience, the sense of paradox and ambiguity that comes with years!
To instruct calls for energy, and to remain almost silent, but watchful and helpful, while students instruct themselves, calls for even greater energy. To see someone fall (which will teach him not to fall again) when a word from you would keep him on his feet but ignorant of an important danger, is one of the tasks of the teacher that calls for special energy, because holding in is more demanding than crying out.
There comes a time when one must be strong with rationalists, for they can reduce anything whatever to dust, if they happen not to like the look of it, or if it threatens their deep-buried negativism. I mean of course rationalists like you, who take some little provincial world of their own as the whole of the universe and the seat of all knowledge.