Quotes from Descent into Hell

Charles Williams ·  222 pages

Rating: (1.7K votes)


“It may be a movement towards becoming like little children to admit that we are generally nothing else.”
― Charles Williams, quote from Descent into Hell


“Love was even more mathematical than poetry. It was the pure mathematics of the spirit.”
― Charles Williams, quote from Descent into Hell


“She endured her own nature and supposed it to be the burden of another's.”
― Charles Williams, quote from Descent into Hell


“Pardon,Periel, like Love, is only ours for fun: essentially we don't and can't.”
― Charles Williams, quote from Descent into Hell


“. Nature's so terribly good. Don't you think so, Mr. Stanhope?"
Stanhope was standing by, silent, while Mrs. Parry communed with her soul and with one or two of her neighbours on the possibilities of dressing the Chorus. He turned his head and answered, "That Nature is terribly good? Yes, Miss Fox. You do mean 'terribly'?"
"Why, certainly," Miss Fox said. "Terribly--dreadfully--very."
"Yes," Stanhope said again. "Very. Only--you must forgive me; it comes from doing so much writing, but when I say 'terribly' I think I mean 'full of terror'. A dreadful goodness."
"I don't see how goodness can be dreadful," Miss Fox said, with a shade of resentment in her voice. "If things are good they're not terrifying, are they?"
"It was you who said 'terribly'," Stanhope reminded her with a smile, "I only agreed."
"And if things are terrifying," Pauline put in, her eyes half closed and her head turned away as if she asked a casual question rather of the world than of him, "can they be good?"
He looked down on her. "Yes, surely," he said, with more energy. "Are our tremors to measure the Omnipotence?”
― Charles Williams, quote from Descent into Hell


“There was presented to him at once and clearly an opportunity for joy--casual, accidental joy, but joy. If he could not manage joy, at least he might have managed the intention of joy, or (if that also were too much) an effort towards the intention of joy. The infinity of-grace could have been contented and invoked by a mere mental refusal of anything but such an effort. He knew his duty--he was no fool--he knew that the fantastic recognition would please and amuse the innocent soul of Sir Aston, not so much for himself as in some unselfish way for the honour of history. Such honours meant nothing, but they were part of the absurd dance of the world, and to be enjoyed as such. Wentworth knew he could share that pleasure. He could enjoy; at least he could refuse not to enjoy. He could refuse and reject damnation.

With a perfectly clear, if instantaneous, knowledge of what he did, he rejected joy instead. He instantaneously preferred anger, and at once it came; he invoked envy, and it obliged him. He crushed the paper in a rage, then he tore it open, and looked again and again-there it still was. He knew that his rival had not only succeeded, but succeeded at his own expense; what chance was there of another historical knighthood for years? Till that moment he had never thought of such a thing. The possibility had been created and withdrawn simultaneously, leaving the present fact to mock him. The other possibility--of joy in that present fact--receded as fast. He had determined, then and for ever, for ever, for ever, that he would hate the fact, and therefore facts.”
― Charles Williams, quote from Descent into Hell


“A man cannot love himself; he can only idolize it, and over the idol delightfully tyrannize - without purpose. The great gift which the simple idolatry of self gives is lack of further purpose”
― Charles Williams, quote from Descent into Hell


“She said, still perplexed at a strange language: "But how can I cease to be troubled? will it leave off coming because I pretend it wants you? Is it your resemblance that hurries up the street?"
"It is not," he said, "and you shall not pretend at all. The thing itself you may one day meet-never mind that now, but you'll be free from all distress because that you can pass on to me. Haven't you heard it said that we ought to bear one another's burdens?"
"But that means-" she began, and stopped.
"I know," Stanhope said. "It means listening sympathetically, and thinking unselfishly, and being anxious about, and so on. Well, I don't say a word against all that; no doubt it helps. But I think when Christ or St. Paul, or whoever said bear, or whatever he Aramaically said instead of bear, he meant something much more like carrying a parcel instead of someone else. To bear a burden is precisely to carry it instead of. If you're still carrying yours, I'm not carrying it for you--however sympathetic I may be.”
― Charles Williams, quote from Descent into Hell


“But no verse, not Stanhope's, not Shakespeare's, not Dante's could rival the original, and this was the original, and the verse was but the best translation of a certain manner of its life. The glory of poetry could not outshine the clear glory of the certain fact, and not any poetry could hold as many meanings as the fact.”
― Charles Williams, quote from Descent into Hell


“but he did not change his purpose, nor did the universe invite him to change. It accepted the choice; no more preventing him than it prevents a child playing with fire or a fool destroying his love. It has not our kindness or our decency; if it is good, its goodness is of another kind than ours.”
― Charles Williams, quote from Descent into Hell


“If the redeemed sing, presumably someone must write the songs.”
― Charles Williams, quote from Descent into Hell


“, Stanhope delayed a moment behind Miss Fox to add: "The substantive, of course, governs the adjective; not the other way round."
"The substantive?" Pauline asked blankly.
"Good. It contains terror, not terror good. I'm keeping you. Good-bye, Periel," and he was gone.”
― Charles Williams, quote from Descent into Hell


“Everything lovely in you for a perpetual companion, so that you'd never be frightened or disappointed or ashamed any more. There are tales that can give you yourself completely and the world could never treat you so badly then that you wouldn't neglect it. One can get everything by listening or looking in the right way: there are all sorts of turns.”
― Charles Williams, quote from Descent into Hell


About the author

Charles Williams
Born place: in London, The United Kingdom
Born date September 20, 1886
See more on GoodReads

Popular quotes

“I had lost some of my naivete and gained strength. These women with their pointless scheming could not contain me, and I watched the volatile world of the gynaeceum with a detached eye. The Forbidden City had buried my youth, and in the monastery, I had died and come back to life. Friends, enemies and mistresses had all disappeared. I was a ghost from a lost world, still going from one season to the next and still living for one man alone.”
― Shan Sa, quote from Empress


“Sometimes, Chase… it’s the emotional wounds that hurt the most.” I pushed back the anger and sighed. “I’d rather he beat me. Cuts heal, bruises fade — but broken hearts? They carry scars for a lifetime.”
― Rachel Van Dyken, quote from Elite


“There was rarely an obvious branching point in a person's life. People changed slowly, over time. You didn't take on step, then find yourself in a completely new location. You first took a little step off a path to avoid some rocks. For a while, you walked alongside the path, but then you wandered out a little way to step on softer soil. Then you stopped paying attention as you drifted farther and farther away. Finally, you found yourself in the wrong city, wondering why the signs on the roadway hadn't led you better.”
― Brandon Sanderson, quote from The Emperor's Soul


“Did you say you were going into Tir Na Nog? Lemme guess - you met with our lovely queen, she threatened to turn you into lemurs or something ridiculous and then she told you to go complete some ludicrously impossible task for her. Am I right?” When we nodded, he shook his head. “I thought so. Well, you know what this means, don’t you?”
“Yes.” Keirran’s eyes were hard as he faced Puck, his expression one of grim determination. “We have to find a way into Winter.”
― Julie Kagawa, quote from The Iron Traitor


“a walther ppk. you're a james bond fan, i imagine....”
― Douglas Preston, quote from The Wheel of Darkness


Interesting books

The Feast of Love
(8.2K)
The Feast of Love
by Charles Baxter
Sexing the Cherry
(12.6K)
Sexing the Cherry
by Jeanette Winterson
A Grief Observed
(42.2K)
A Grief Observed
by C.S. Lewis
Another Bullshit Night in Suck City
(9.3K)
Another Bullshit Nig...
by Nick Flynn
Evercrossed
(8.6K)
Evercrossed
by Elizabeth Chandler
The Fry Chronicles
(16.5K)
The Fry Chronicles
by Stephen Fry

About BookQuoters

BookQuoters is a community of passionate readers who enjoy sharing the most meaningful, memorable and interesting quotes from great books. As the world communicates more and more via texts, memes and sound bytes, short but profound quotes from books have become more relevant and important. For some of us a quote becomes a mantra, a goal or a philosophy by which we live. For all of us, quotes are a great way to remember a book and to carry with us the author’s best ideas.

We thoughtfully gather quotes from our favorite books, both classic and current, and choose the ones that are most thought-provoking. Each quote represents a book that is interesting, well written and has potential to enhance the reader’s life. We also accept submissions from our visitors and will select the quotes we feel are most appealing to the BookQuoters community.

Founded in 2018, BookQuoters has quickly become a large and vibrant community of people who share an affinity for books. Books are seen by some as a throwback to a previous world; conversely, gleaning the main ideas of a book via a quote or a quick summary is typical of the Information Age but is a habit disdained by some diehard readers. We feel that we have the best of both worlds at BookQuoters; we read books cover-to-cover but offer you some of the highlights. We hope you’ll join us.