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Which Williams?

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  • Andrew Lazo
    I love that so many of CW s novels have found enthusiastic homes in my fellow mythopoeic readers. I find that when I have a taste for Williams, nothing else
    Message 1 of 8 , Mar 17, 2008
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      I love that so many of CW's novels have found enthusiastic homes in my fellow mythopoeic readers. I find that when I have a taste for Williams, nothing else will do.

      I urge the following as a good way not only to approach Williams, but also to address the troubling problem that affects every Lewis reader I know, namely the sea-change in tone, style, and character between Perelandra and THS. I suggest that in many ways the latter novel resembles nothing so much as L's attempt to write a CW-style "supernatural thriller."

      Therefore I recommend to all, esp. those reading the Interplanetary Romances for the first time, that they read a Williams between P and THS. In my book club, the Caffeinated Lamp-post Society, we chose War in Heaven as David recommends. But infelicities of style and development (it was after all CW's first, and CSL rightly diagnoses CW as a rather undisciplined writer) lead me to ponder the very Jane Studdock-like Damaris Tighe and wonder if Place of the Lion might offer a better jumping off place for reading Williams.

      Whichever one chooses, I find that this kind of mouthwash of style has helped several first-time readers of the Ransom novels to moderate their expectations, making THS less jarring if not much more satisfying.

      And as Jerry Root (and surely others) have suggested, one can nearly always pair a Lewis fiction with a non-fiction. THS and Abolition of Man fit together nicely, and of course a re-read of "Inner Ring" and "Membership" helps understand L's project in THS.

      And does anyone else find that THS stands alone rather nicely? All the more so with Planet Narnia ringing round in my mind.

      Mostly, though, hear hear! to praise for Diana (and David's) inestimable work in TCTK!

      A good week to all,

      Andrew



      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • David Emerson
      I find that (at least for me) the major stumbling block to enjoying Charles Williams is the very fact of his association with Lewis and Tolkien. This
      Message 2 of 8 , Mar 17, 2008
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        I find that (at least for me) the major stumbling block to enjoying Charles Williams is the very fact of his association with Lewis and Tolkien. This originally led me to expect that his fiction would be somewhat like theirs. When I found it more to be like Raymond Chandler meets Aleister Crowley, it threw me for a loop.

        If you can get beyond the Inklings-assocation expectation (or if you never have it in the first place) and read Williams as a unique voice, you're more likely to enjoy his novels, no matter which one you start with.

        emerdavid

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      • Alana Joli Abbott
        ... How funny! I read Williams the first time in a course on the Inklings, which also included the writings of Barfield. We looked more at the thematic
        Message 3 of 8 , Mar 17, 2008
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          >If you can get beyond the Inklings-assocation expectation (or if you never have it in the first place) and >read Williams as a unique voice, you're more likely to enjoy his novels, no matter which one you start >with.

          How funny! I read Williams the first time in a course on the Inklings, which also included the writings of Barfield. We looked more at the thematic similarities (of which I still think there are many) rather than stylistic. It wouldn't surprise me if Williams actually had more stylistically in common with Dorothy Sayers, though I can't, off the top of my head, name two of their books that are similar. It may be War in Heaven that struck me as more like a mystery novel with esoteric theology all mixed in than as a theological novel. :)

          -Alana #2

          Alana Joli Abbott, Freelance Writer and Editor (http://www.virgilandbeatrice.com)
          Cowboys and Aliens II: http://www.drunkduck.com/Cowboys_and_Aliens_II/
          Into the Reach and Departure: http://www.whitesilverpublishing.com/ramlar
          Steampunk Musha RPG: http://www.steampunkmusha.com/
          --
          Read my short story "The Valley" all of March at http://edgeofpropinquity.net. _,_._,___


          ____________________________________________________________________________________
          Never miss a thing. Make Yahoo your home page.
          http://www.yahoo.com/r/hs

          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Marc Drayer
          I must admit my reading of Charles Williams started with his non- fiction like He Came Down From Heaven. Then came The Figure of Beatrice which I thought
          Message 4 of 8 , Mar 17, 2008
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            I must admit my reading of Charles Williams started with his non-
            fiction like "He Came Down From Heaven." Then came "The Figure of
            Beatrice" which I thought was an excellent commentary on Dante. It's
            only then that I tried his fiction. I must admit I started with "All
            Hallows Eve" which was a mistake, as I couldn't make head or tail of
            it. I've got to re-read that book sometime, as I've familiarized
            myself with his other novels.

            I must admit Williams has a style that many modern Christian writers
            don't have, a depth that none can match. Which is why I don't
            understand why many rave over the novels of Frank Peretti, who I
            think is hopelessly shallow compared with Williams' spiritual
            shockers.

            After reading Williams,I can now understand how That Hideous
            Strength has been called a CW novel written by Lewis. One book by
            Williams I've always wanted to read is his Arthurian poem cycle
            called "Taleissen Through Logres." Any here read that and can
            comment on it?

            Marc



            --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, Alana Joli Abbott <artiephesus@...>
            wrote:
            >
            > >If you can get beyond the Inklings-assocation expectation (or if
            you never have it in the first place) and >read Williams as a unique
            voice, you're more likely to enjoy his novels, no matter which one
            you start >with.
            >
            > How funny! I read Williams the first time in a course on the
            Inklings, which also included the writings of Barfield. We looked
            more at the thematic similarities (of which I still think there are
            many) rather than stylistic. It wouldn't surprise me if Williams
            actually had more stylistically in common with Dorothy Sayers,
            though I can't, off the top of my head, name two of their books that
            are similar. It may be War in Heaven that struck me as more like a
            mystery novel with esoteric theology all mixed in than as a
            theological novel. :)
            >
            > -Alana #2
            >
            > Alana Joli Abbott, Freelance Writer and Editor
            (http://www.virgilandbeatrice.com)
            > Cowboys and Aliens II:
            http://www.drunkduck.com/Cowboys_and_Aliens_II/
            > Into the Reach and Departure:
            http://www.whitesilverpublishing.com/ramlar
            > Steampunk Musha RPG: http://www.steampunkmusha.com/
            > --
            > Read my short story "The Valley" all of March at
            http://edgeofpropinquity.net. _,_._,___
            >
            >
            >
            _____________________________________________________________________
            _______________
            > Never miss a thing. Make Yahoo your home page.
            > http://www.yahoo.com/r/hs
            >
            > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            >
          • bernip
            From: Andrew Lazo ... I usually just skip Perelandra all together, since I can t stand it. I much prefer That Hideous Strength. (The
            Message 5 of 8 , Mar 17, 2008
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              From: "Andrew Lazo" <andrewlazo@...>
              >
              > I urge the following as a good way not only to approach Williams, but also
              > to address the troubling problem that affects every Lewis reader I know,
              > namely the sea-change in tone, style, and character between Perelandra and
              > THS. I suggest that in many ways the latter novel resembles nothing so
              > much as L's attempt to write a CW-style "supernatural thriller."
              >
              > Therefore I recommend to all, esp. those reading the Interplanetary
              > Romances for the first time, that they read a Williams between P and THS.

              I usually just skip Perelandra all together, since I can't stand it. I much
              prefer That Hideous Strength. (The green lady is so insipid, she drives me
              crazy. It's like reading about Barbie.)

              Berni
            • David Emerson
              ... The image of Ken & Barbie being Adam & Eve -- ow! Get out of my brain! emerdavid ________________________________________ PeoplePC Online A better way to
              Message 6 of 8 , Mar 17, 2008
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                >From: bernip <bernip@...>
                >
                >I usually just skip Perelandra all together, since I can't stand it. I much
                >prefer That Hideous Strength. (The green lady is so insipid, she drives me
                >crazy. It's like reading about Barbie.)

                The image of Ken & Barbie being Adam & Eve -- ow! Get out of my brain!

                emerdavid

                ________________________________________
                PeoplePC Online
                A better way to Internet
                http://www.peoplepc.com
              • Merlin DeTardo
                ...
                Message 7 of 8 , Mar 17, 2008
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                  ---"Marc Drayer" <mdrayer2001@...> wrote:
                  << One book by Williams I've always wanted to read is his Arthurian
                  poem cycle called "Taliessen Through Logres." Any here read that and
                  can comment on it? >>

                  I have not. But Tolkien heard some of it read aloud, and of Williams'
                  Taliessin, he wrote, among other things:

                  "But here, it seems, a voyage of some swift bark
                  to that Black Sea (which now is mainly Red)
                  has much enlarged him, both in heart and head;
                  but still I understand not aught he said!"

                  That's from a 107-line poem that was published in _The Inklings_,
                  untitled there but more recently identified in Scull and Hammond's
                  _Companion & Guide_ by a very long title reminiscent of the full title
                  of _Farmer Giles of Ham_ (I would have missed it if not for David
                  Bratman's review of the Scull/Hammond volumes last year in _Mythprint_).

                  -Merlin DeTardo
                • David Bratman
                  ... One of Tolkien s concerns in his later years was to separate his works from Williams s. He really disliked being thrown in a thematic heap with that very
                  Message 8 of 8 , Mar 18, 2008
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                    At 12:58 PM 3/17/2008 -0500, David Emerson wrote:

                    >I find that (at least for me) the major stumbling block to enjoying Charles
                    >Williams is the very fact of his association with Lewis and Tolkien. This
                    >originally led me to expect that his fiction would be somewhat like theirs.
                    >When I found it more to be like Raymond Chandler meets Aleister Crowley, it
                    >threw me for a loop.

                    One of Tolkien's concerns in his later years was to separate his works from Williams's. He really disliked being thrown in a thematic heap with that very different writer, whose style and attitudes in literature he did not at all endorse. That only happened after critics started potting the Inklings as a unified group.

                    We can thank a famous article by John Rateliff for clarifying that this was Tolkien's concern, and not any (non-existent) festering personal jealousy against Williams or any such rot, though belief in such still exists - there was an impervious nimnul spouting such nonsense on the Coinherence list just a few weeks ago.

                    At 09:15 PM 3/17/2008 +0000, Marc Drayer wrote:

                    >One book by
                    >Williams I've always wanted to read is his Arthurian poem cycle
                    >called "Taleissen Through Logres." Any here read that and can
                    >comment on it?

                    Taliessin. And its followup, The Region of the Summer Stars. Not a work one can comment on briefly. Our local group got years of discussion out of those two books by taking one poem at a time and examining it line-by-line. It's really unreadable in any other way than slowly and carefully.
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