quotes_oct1_2006.htm

(October 1st to 7th)



Format: Triple

They seated themselves in the heavy chairs on the pebbled floor beneath the eaves of the summer house by the orchard. A table between them carried wine and glasses, and a packet of papers, with pen and ink. The larger man of the two, his doublet unbuttoned, his broad face blotched and scarred, puffed a little as he came to rest. The other picked up an apple from the grass, bit it, and went on with the thread of the talk that they must have carried out of doors with them.

  

This is the opening paragraph of “Proofs of Holy Writ”, the last tale RK wrote, which was completed too late to be included in his last collection – Limits and Renewals.

Will Shakespeare has been asked to help in the drafting of the King James Bible, which in the early 1600s was being translated by committees of clerics. He is wrestling with a passage from the Book of Isaiah, with the aid of his friend Ben Jonson.


Her cinnabar-tinted topsail, nicking the hot blue horizon, showed she was a Spanish wheat-boat hours before she reached Marseilles mole. There, the mainsail brailed itself, a spritsail broke out forward, and a handy driver aft; and she threaded her way through the shipping to her berth at the quay as quietly as a veiled woman slips through a bazaar.

   

This is the opening of ‘The Manner of Men’m from Limits and Renewals, in which a group of Mediterranean sea-captains, in Roman times, are reminiscing about the past. One had commanded a ship on passage to Rome in stormy waters, with a cargo of Christians destined for a brutal death in the amphitheatre. They had included Paul of Tarsus. With his commanding personality and his insistence on the need for all men to keep faith, Paul had made a powerful impact on everyone he met.


John drew from his bosom a stamped leather box. Some six or eight inches long, wherein, bedded on faded velvet, lay what looked like silver-bound compasses of old box-wood, with a screw at the top which opened or closed the legs to minute fractions. The legs terminated, not in points, but spoon-shapedly, one spatula pierced with a metal-lined hole less than a quarter of an inch across, the other with a half-inch hole. Into this latter, John, after carefully wiping with a silk rag, slipped a metal cylinder that carried glass or crystal, it seemed, at each end…

   

This is from “The Eye of Allah” in Debits and Credits.

A group of clerics in a 12th century English monastery, including Roger Bacon, are fascinated by the minuscule life revealed by an early microscope, brought back by a wandering friar from Muslim Spain. They realise that this invention could open up a new world of understanding. But the Abbot – believing that this knowledge, too soon, would be too dangerous to the authority of the Church- insists on destroying the instrument.

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