Charles Williams and Gothic novels
- Here's a snippet from a conversation on Usenet:
On Sat, 21 Mar 2009 19:48:01 -0400, John W Kennedy <jwkenne@...>
>On 3/21/09 2:41 AM, Steve Hayes wrote:wrote:
>> On Fri, 20 Mar 2009 16:09:31 -0400, Steve Morrison<rimagen@...>
>>> For me, the problem is that I've hardly read anything by
>>> Inklings other than JRRT and CSL; I did read WIlliams's
>>> /All Hallows' Eve/ years ago, but that's it. Do you have
>>> any recommendations for books by the other Inklings?
>> I'd recommend Williams's other novels.
>> My favourites are "War in heaven", "The place of the lion" and "The
>> trumps""Shadows of ecstasy" was also Williams's first novel, and while it starts off
>Might as well include "Descent into Hell" and "Many Dimensions".
>"Shadows of Ecstasy" is somewhat more dated than the others.
OK, at the end the plot tends to dissolve into abstract philosophical
It, and "Descent into hell" have always been the ones I've liked least partly
for that reason, but recently I've read a couple of novels that have made me
want to re-read "Descent itno hell".
I found a book in the library with the title "Four Gothic novels", and I took
it out because I'd read about them, but hadn't read any of them and thought
I'd familiarise myself with the genre.
It has "The castle of Otranto" by Horace Walpole, the progenitor of the
and "Vathek" by William Beckford - both moral tales about wicked and unjust
rulers who got their come-uppance.
I had just read a modern fantasy novel, "Neverwhere" by Neil Gaiman, which
provided a linking theme:
All Hallows Eve
Descent into hell
"All Hallows Eve" is about two dead girls wandering around wartime London,
drifting towards damnation adn the other to wards redemption.
"Neverwhere" has a similar setting, of a "London above" and a "London below".
"Vathek" has the progression of an unjust ruler to damnation, a kind of
descent into hell.
And "Descent into hell" is, of course, what the title suggests.
I don't want to say too much, for fear of introducing spoilers for those who
haven't read them, but I was struck by the common themes that run through all
And I suppose in C.S. Lewis there is "The great divorce", and in Tolkien
>The Arthuriad is also rewarding, though difficult: "Taliessin Through
>Logres" and "The Region of the Summer Stars". But you'd better have a
>copy of "Arthurian Torso" on hand to follow Lewis's commentary.
>"The English Poetic Mind" is vital. And "The Figure of Beatrice" is one
>of the leading books of all time on Dante.