“He that will be a hero, will barely be a man”

Then first I knew the delight of being lowly; of saying to myself, “I am what I am, nothing more.” “I have failed,” I said, “I have lost myself—would it had been my shadow.” I looked round: the shadow was nowhere to be seen. Ere long, I learned that it was not myself, but only my shadow, that I had lost. I learned that it is better, a thousand-fold, for a proud man to fall and be humbled, than to hold up his head in his pride and fancied innocence. I learned that he that will be a hero, will barely be a man; that he that will be nothing but a doer of his work, is sure of his manhood. In nothing was my ideal lowered, or dimmed, or grown less precious; I only saw it too plainly, to set myself for a moment beside it. Indeed, my ideal soon became my life; whereas, formerly, my life had consisted in a vain attempt to behold, if not my ideal in myself, at least myself in my ideal.

George MacDonald, Phantastes: A Faerie Romance for Men and Women ch. 22 (1858).

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Posted on April 21, 2013, in Authors, David Mitchel, George MacDonald and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Ah! Be still my heart. A MacDonald quote… and such an amazing one! I am about halfway through this book at the moment.

  2. What an endearingly piercing and morose quote! Oh dear. I think this book just cut into second place on my list of books-to-be-read.

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