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I see on Wikipedia that one of his novels is titled The Greater Trumps - ha!

Ha indeed--it didn't even cross my mind to connect that with Trump. Which I guess is what you mean?


There's also the collective biography of the Inklings, by Humphrey Carpenter, that if anything has rather too much about Charles Williams relative to the others. I think that came out in the 1980s too.

Late 1970s, actually, and I'm a little embarrassed to say that I'm not sure whether I read it. I think not. I read Carpenter's Tolkien biography which came out around that time, and which I read in the early '80s, and I remember it pretty well, though I haven't read it since. So probably I haven't read The Inklings.

Maybe it was in the Tolkien bio that I read about Tolkien disliking Williams and referring to him as "that old witch doctor." And about Lewis's disappointment. I didn't go into it in this post but there is definitely something a bit unsavory about Williams's penchant for the occult.

I've read The Place of the Lion, which was pretty good. It was about how the study of philosophy when you don't believe any of it is bad.

I started All Hallow's Eve but didn't finish it precisely because "there is definitely something a bit unsavory about Williams's penchant for the occult."

I think I may have read The Decent of the Dove, or at least part of it, but it didn't leave any lasting impression.

I think Anglicans are more easily drawn into fascination with the occult than Catholics.

I am pretty sure I have read all but two of the novels. One because I just never got around to it and another because it was getting very creepy--well more than creepy--and there was a child involved and I was so terrified for the child that I couldn't keep reading.

I think that I like Descent into Hell the best. Aside from that and All Hallow's Eve the others are all confused in my mind.

I probably mentioned in my Authors post about Thomas Howard that he has a book on Williams novels that I found extremely helpful.

I do think that Williams got awfully close to a line that one should stay further away from.

In the CSL group we read He Came Down from Heaven, which is about the Incarnation. His theology is very mystical, as you would imagine, and very thought-provoking. I don't remember it well now, but while I disagreed with some of what he said, I thought there was a lot of good stuff in the book.



Fixed. :-) I happened to be in the neighborhood.

Is Place of the Lion the one where archetypes get loose in the world, or something? If so I've read it. I didn't like it as well at the time (thirty-plus year ago). And unless it also involves the Grail I guess I've read two more.

Both All Hallows and Descent involve characters who are damned, and as unhealthy as it may have been for Williams to imagine it, the latter especially I think is a worthwhile counter to all the idiotic "Well, I'd rather go to hell because it will be more fun" stuff that people say so often.

I suppose Anglicans are more likely to at least dabble in the occult while remaining Anglican. But Catholics may be more likely to become out-and-out satanists.

"But Catholics may be more likely to become out-and-out satanists."


Not practicing Catholics, but people who have been Catholic and rejected it. I wouldn't insist on the point but it has occurred to me.

I will be careful to remain faithful so I do not stumble into a satanic ritual!

What happened to my comments?


Oh, never mind. I see.


That is the place of the lion. It didn't have the Grail on it, though.

I think that's War In Heaven, then--the one with the Grail. So I think I've read all except Shadows of Ecstasy and The Greater Trumps. But obviously I don't remember a couple of them very well.

What is the one that starts out with a dead body in an office and I guy that has some kind of cream that he is going to put on himself to do some magic thing?

That really sounds weird.


Heh. Sure does. It may be War In Heaven. I don't remember magic cream but I do remember a dead body in an office.

The last Williams I read was The Greater Trumps -- it was quite a few years ago, as I read it in conjunction with a re-read of Tim Powers' novel Last Call, which also has to do with the tarot deck.

Was the one with the "cream" All Hallows Eve? I seem to remember something about an ointment that gave the power of flight or supernatural travel or something. It's been decades since I read it though. I've read all the novels once, and a couple of them twice, but its been years.

I always thought that CW was a little dicey too, especially after the biographical information came out about his odd relationships with female students. There was some stuff that was a sort of vaguely erotic ritualism that was very questionable.

Yes, so I've read. I thought that University Bookman piece mentions it but implies that it remained platonic. Not that that makes it ok. You can see him trying to purify it in the fiction

I don't think that magic cream is in All Hallows'. If I trusted my memory more I'd say it definitely isn't.


The magic cream is definitely not in All Hallows' Eve. I don't trust my memory very much at all, but I know it was in the book I stopped reading.


Well, before I got sidetracked I was about to reread Lord of the Rings, but I think I may stay on this sidetrack for a bit.

You are sending me down the sidetrack now. I was just thinking about that this morning, and I'm only reading about 6 books.


We should start a LOTR reading group.

Just read in a review by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, of a 2008 book, Charles Williams: Alchemy and integration, that C. S. Lewis once said that Williams “did not always know how to hit the golden mean between Dante and Wodehouse". I've never read any of Williams’s books , so don't know if that fits -- does it?

When I read Williams, Wodehouse is the farthest thing from my mind.


I wonder what the heck he meant.


I'll have to wait till later to read the Williams article. But believe it or not, I actually did think about Wodehouse while reading Many Dimensions. It crossed my mind that several of the characters were the same basic type as some of Wodehouse's. Reginald Montague for instance. But there's nothing lighthearted about them at all. Evil twins or something.

Williams is no dummy, especially where literature is concerned, so the piece should be interesting.

So, we're reading Williams about Williams. That should confuse the heck out of me.


Call them the Witch Doctor and the Bishop. I read the first two chapters of War In Heaven earlier and was surprised to find the Sir Giles Tumulty is in it.

I might be interested in a LOTR reading group. Not right now though.

One more chapter of War In Heaven and it's already clear that a child is in danger, although there has not been the least actual threat. It's very skillfuly done. I can see, Janet, why you stopped.

Finally found time to read the Archbishop's piece. Really interesting, and more or less confirms the impression one gets from the novels that he dealt in some dangerous things but in the end pulls back from disaster, bringing some useful knowledge and insight with him.

I was looking for photos of Williams and stumbled upon a list of 100 tweets about him done by the author of his 2015 biography (The Third Inkling) in the lead-up to the book's release. Three of them:

#7 – Charles Williams wrote his first novel after reading a thriller by Sax Rohmer, creator of Fu Manchu, and thinking “I could do that!”

#16 – CW gave CS Lewis’s Allegory of Love its title–CSL wanted to call it “The House of Busirane: An Essay on the Erotic Allegory of the Middle Ages.”

#22 – Charles Williams’s wife Michal learned from her poacher father to tickle trout: hence the fish image in [Williams’s] poem “Bors to Elaine.”

Anyone here know how to tickle trout?

Lewis was terrible at naming things.

One of the members of our CSL group brought some first edition English copies of some Lewis books to our meeting and they had the most awful names. Unfortunately, I don't remember them, nor do I remember if they were Lewis's names, or the publisher's.


No idea what "tickling trout" is but it sounds a whole lot better than "noodling catfish."

Wonder who Busirane is. I always thought the names in the Narnia books were a very mixed bag--some excellent, some fairly bad. Most not very good, really.

Really Maleldil is the worst. Mal is bad or evil. What was he thinking?


Busirane is an evil sorcerer in The Fairie Queene.


Yes, "Maleldil" is atrocious. What indeed was he thinking?!?

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