Monday, April 18, 2011

what I'm reading: 'I cannot unlive my life' from Wolf Hall

Protestant writer and theologian John Frith has been condemned to die for his faith. Thomas Cromwell - ever the pragmatist, though sympathetic to the reformers - is trying to convince him to recant:

'They will burn you.'

'And you think I cannot bear the pain. You are right, I cannot. But they will give me no choice. As More says, it hardly makes a man a hero, to agree to stand and burn once he is chained to a stake. I have written books and I cannot unwrite them. I cannot unbelieve what I believe. I cannot unlive my life.'
John Frith was burned at the stake on July 4, 1533. He was 30 years old.

From Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall, p. 435.


Gordon Cheng said...

well, plenty of room for me to add my quotes some time. That's a goodie.

Hilary M is not a Christian acc to wikipedia, but she writes so well and sympathetically of Christians that you almost wonder whether she will become one.

Jean said...

Ah, yes, but I haven't finished yet...

The quote war is on!!!

(Actually, I only wrote 4 quotes in my journal, then returned the book to the library, so you should be able to win this one.)

HM had a Catholic upbringing and hated the burden on her conscious (according to all-knowing Wikipedia and, I believe, her autobiography) - very much a recovered 'religious' person - so it depends if she is won over by the gospel, in God's mercy.

Yes, she does write well and sympathetically of Christians - but perhaps of others too?? I haven't read enough to know. It's a rare thing, though, that ability to write as she does about Christians, without the cheap and easy stereotypes.

Jenna said...

What a great quote. I can't help thinking about how in terms of my own life... the very things I cannot unlive. Or not be. Excellent blog.