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1. War in Heaven, A Novel
2. Many Dimensions
3. All Hallow's Eve (Paperback)
4. Essays Presented to Charles Williams
5. The Descent of the Dove
6. Descent into Hell, a Novel
7. Confidentially Yours
8. Letters to Lalage: The Letters
9. The Greater Trumps (Paperback)
10. Shadows of Heaven: Religion and
11. Charles Williams: Essential Writings
12. A Charles Williams Reader
13. The Pattern in the Web: The Mythical
14. The Place of the Lion
15. The Theology of Romantic Love:
16. Loathsome Jews and Engulfing Women:
17. The Novels of Charles Williams
18. Charles Williams: Alchemy And
19. He Came Down from Heaven and The
20. A Touch of Death (Hard Case Crime)

1. War in Heaven, A Novel
by Charles Williams
Paperback: 256 Pages (2004-01-01)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$5.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0802812198
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Here Williams gives a contemporary setting to the traditional story of the Search for the Holy Grail. Examining the distinction betwen magic and religion, War in Heaven is an eerily disturbing book, one that graphically portays a metaphysical journey through the shadowy crevices of the human mind.Amazon.com Review
"The telephone was ringing wildly," begins Charles Williams'snovel War in Heaven, "but without result, since there wasno-one in the room but the corpse." From this abrupt--and darklyhumorous--start, Williams takes us on a 20th-century version of theGrail quest, with an Archdeacon, a Duke, and an editor playing the oldArthurian roles. Throughout, Williams reminds us that these legendswere above all about divine, not just human, romance. While filledwith marvels and black magic, the novel also suggests that the deviljust might be what the face of God looks like to those who have soughtdestruction, just as that face is love to those who have soughtlove. The choice, Williams affirms, is always ours. --DougThorpe ... Read more

Customer Reviews (23)

4-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, old-fashioned and delightfully up-to-date
Charles Williams died in 1945, aged fifty-nine, and I acquired three of his novels recently from a second-hand stall. This is the first one I've read. I found myself thinking of the differences between modern writing and the stories of not-too-long ago, remembering reading Dickens as a young teen and coping fine with long descriptions that would later bore my sons, knowing as I read that "this is a good author" therefore trusting the story to come. Not that Charles Williams writes like Dickens, but his stories do have longer paragraphs and more description than modern fiction. If War in heaven is anything to go by, they also have fascinating plots, up-to-date mysteries--even a Holy Graal--and complex characters with no simple bad guy/good guy denotations.

That last point makes me think they may represent better story-telling than many recent Christian novels I've read, though some of the plot-lines make me wonder if they'd be accepted by a modern Christian publishing house.

In case you can't tell, I really rather enjoyed reading War in Heaven. The author paints the English town and countryside very convincingly, making me think of home. And he writes the dialog delightfully, with half the truths lying unspoken between the lines. There's a murder on page one, and an absolutely perfect first line that declares the phone's ringing unanswered "since there was no-one in the room but the corpse." And even as mystery piles on mystery, that corpse lies waiting to be identified, the cause of death unknown till the story's end.

There's a country pastor, a Duke, a mad archeologist, strange chemists brewing even stranger potions, and innocent book publishers just trying to get on with their lives. There are deaths as well, not just the corpse; crazy chases; magical mists and mysterious strangers. And there are long and fascinating conversations like sitting by the fireside listening in while those with serious opinions opine.

It's a zany mad-cap adventure, told slowly and leisurely. And I find myself wondering if, in a world with fewer authors and fewer books, perhaps it was easier to know "this is a good author" and trust the tale to come. Perhaps we need our fast pace and instant action when we read today because the reader's probably not heard of the author before. If we're not caught straight away in the story's net what reason will we have to invest the time?

Ah well, that's my two-pennorth. And when I get time, I'll invest it in reading and reviewing another of Charles Williams' books.

3-0 out of 5 stars Reads Like a Hammer Horror Film
Williams' common theme to his novels is the interaction of the natural world with the supernatural, more specifically Heaven and Hell. The result is usually a terrible clash. In this story the Holy Grail is discovered by an obscure passage of a book , a passage not to be published in the final work. Three characters who revere the Grail for its religious and literary significance try to protect it. Three men want it for its occult power. A fight ensues, though on a much smaller scale than those legendary of the Knights of the Round Table. Nonetheless it reflects the war between Heaven and Hell.

The story and the characters are very English. It is set at a wealthy man's estate, Cully, or a duke's home, or a church at Castra Parvulorum, a.k.a. Fardes. The characters include the masters of these locales, as well as the staff of a publishing company, (Williams using his background in the story). The use of the occult in this setting - including Black Mass and a chemist's shop with magic item - prompted visions of Hammer horror films. It's a fun read.

4-0 out of 5 stars Worth Reading.
Like several previous reviewers, I read this book because of Charles Williams's connection with C.S Lewis and Tolkein.This book has not achieved the lasting fame and adulation of Lewis's Space Trilogy or The Lord of the Rings, and for good reasons.The plot is almost amateurish, and Williams simply could not write as well as Lewis or Tolkien.

BUT, Willims had gifts of another sort.Williams was able to write about spiritual experience in ways that Dan Brown (or pick some other thriller of-the-day writer) could never hope to equal. War In Heaven will challenge the reader to sweat through long stretches of unremarkable prose, that could easily have come from yesterdays advertisements, but perseverence will be rewarded with sweet draughts of unforgettable holiness.

The privilege of reading Chapter X titled The Second Attempt on the Graal, made up for all the book's low points.The internal reaction of Mornington and the Duke to the Graal, and the description of the united effort at prayer to resist the unholy assault on the Graal, represent one of the clearest articulations of faith as the "substance of things to be hoped for" that I have ever yet encountered .In the end, passages like this are the only reason I read fiction at all.Its the reason why War in Heaven must be read.

3-0 out of 5 stars A little too complicated for my taste...
But perhaps it is because I am not a great mystery fan, or the classics.[I mean, did the question, "Heautontimoroumentos?" really make immediate sense to anyone else?]

In any case, I found by keeping a score card so that I could track all the players, and parsing several passages in order to figure out the nuances of the author's syntax, I could plug on into the last few chapters which, though possibly the most surreal, were, IMO, the most accessible.

I would recommend looking for a copy to borrow before buying if you were, like myself, considering reading it because of Williams' ties to the Inklings.

4-0 out of 5 stars A battle between heaven and hell over the Holy Graal
This is the first book I have read by Charles Williams, and if it is indicative of what the rest of his books are like, I think I shall be a fan of his.In War in Heaven, Williams depicts a struggle between the forces of evil (which call upon the powers of Hell), and the forces of good (which call upon the power of God), over the Holy Graal, which has turned up in contemporaryEngland (or at least it was contemporary when Williams wrote it).In the course of the struggle, each side draws upon the power of their master, Gregory Persimmons upon Hell and the Arch-Bishop upon God through prayer.It is a very good story, and it reminded me greatly of C. S. Lewis' Interplanetary series, especially That Hideous Strength.Williams wrote this first, so I wonder if this book shaped the one that Lewis wrote.I know that they read each others works, so I find it hard to believe that the fact that they are so similar is a mere coincidence.

A few of Williams theological views were a bit questionable.For example, at one point he attributes evil to God, and claims that God wills evil.Near the very end of the book, it is also said that the church is one path among many to God.He seems to be advocating pluralism, but it was kind of vague, and possibly could have been saying that one can be saved without being a part of the visible church.

In conclusion, this is a very good book which I would recommend to those who like philosophical fiction.If you like the modern kind of mindless reading, where you don't really need to think, you will probably not like this book, for this book makes you think.It raises philosophical questions which it does not necessarily answer, so if you do not like being troubled of mind, this is probably not the story for you.A few previous reviewers have also implied that it is a frightening story, but I do not think you need be wary of reading this if you do not like reading of occult and the such, for there are no demons, only black magic, and I did not find them particularly scary at all.Personally, I think that a few scenes of Ransom and the devil in Perelandra were far more frightening that anything in this book. ... Read more

2. Many Dimensions
by Charles Williams
Paperback: 269 Pages (1963-07)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$4.90
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 080281221X
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Amazon.com Review
Imagine Raiders of the Lost Ark set in 20th-centuryLondon, and then imagine it written by a man steeped not in Hollywoodmovies but in Dante and the things of the spirit, and you might beginto get a picture of Charles Williams's novel ManyDimensions. The plot turns on the discovery of the magical Stoneof Solomon, through which one can move at will through space, time,and thought. Those who think they can manipulate the stone to servetheir own ends, however, find to their horror that, as Jesus onceironically said, "they have their reward." While the story clearlydeals with the extraordinary, through his humorous and lovingdepiction of his British characters Williams more deeply shows us thespiritual reality that lies inside the ordinary. --Doug Thorpe ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars complicated adventure
This is a difficult read, and very exciting.A little like Dan Brown in the 1930's.

5-0 out of 5 stars How does one measure God...or Spacetime..., for that matter?
Even to his fans Williams can seem a bit remote, but once you get used to the British inflection and syntax in his dialogs - and identify the parameters of the uncanny worlds he portrays - Williams can become exhilirating. His is a very unique and peculiar genius. This particular book has depths and images I will ponder for quite some time. It also has a very subtle and intelligent humor. I should probably read it again. Apart from the provocatively and profoundly problematic talisman of the Stone and a clever plot illustrating some fascinating ethical and theological conundrums, I believe Williams brilliantly (and prophetically?) explores (what I had previously thought was) the ultra-modern and ultra-sophisticated (or perhaps, if you prefer, science fiction) topic of teleportation in its many forms. No doubt this guy got his Images from a Dimension few of us visit during our daylight dealings and distractions.

2-0 out of 5 stars Freaky, Deaky, Sheiky
For a provoking supernatural thriller (to the extent early 20th century Brits can be thrilling) Williams can't be beat.But here Williams goes beyond his typical heterodoxy to apparently reject the Triune God and further poses a bizarre revisionist history where Persians have somehow maintained the engine of King Solomon's flying carpet.That's all well and good for ecumenical sorts I suppose, but, personally, I think Mr. Williams drew a bit too deeply from the hookah during the Golden Dawn ritual at which he conceived the plot of this particular metaphysical potboiler.Ultimately the book seems to abandon the cycle of redemption.Williams finds salvation outside of Christ's death on the cross and instead in the workings of a queer rock.Weird, Wilde stuff.So I would skip this one, unless it's raining and you don't have anything else to read, or you've read War in Heaven and have a burning desire to know the fate of Giles Tumulty.

Also, the quality of the Eerdmans books is disappointing.This is unfortunate since they're publishing a third of the current Williams catalog.My copy of Many Dimensions is already falling apart and the pages resemble a digital scan of the original.My Regent College copy of All Hallows' Eve appears to be of better construction.Read it or War in Heaven instead.

4-0 out of 5 stars Nice Follow-along to "War In Heaven"
On page one the reader finds that Charles Williams's "Many Dimensions" has a setup similar to his "War In Heaven"- namely, that the scholar Sir Giles Tumulty (a crossover character from "War...") has obtained an ancient artifact which purportedly has supernatural powers of a religious flavor. The remainder of the book develops as a struggle over the artifact between those who are aligned in someway with the forces of light and those aligned with the forces of darkness.

"...Dimensions" falls short of "War..." in that Williams's narrative in "...Dimensions" is less cohesive and more prone to various sidebars and extraneous characters - always a risk in a Williams novel. To his credit, however, the extraneous sidebars and characters allow Williams to perceptively comment on some character types and issues commonly encountered in the modern (or post-modern) world.

Though perhaps not as good as "War in Heaven", worth reading as a loose sequel to that book, or can be read as a stand alone. Somewhere between 3-4 stars and generally better (if only by being more substantive) than most contemporary fiction and certainly better than "The Da Vinci Code".

5-0 out of 5 stars Very funny for Charles Williams, and well done
Charles Williams is always deep, and often thick and meaty. Happily, in this novel, he is extremely funny. Watching what the British do when a spiritually powerful stone is dropped into their outstretched hands is a fine pursuit. Some situations are farcically funny, others witty, and some are, in the end, pitiful- the kind of jokes about the human race that are rooted in our failure to do all we should with our great gifts, that we wish we didn't have to make.

Williams combines an ultimately serious theme with high poetry, good plot and characters, and his highly individual treatment of the supernatural and mysticism for a very satisfying read (and re-read). ... Read more

3. All Hallow's Eve (Paperback)
by Charles Williams
 Paperback: 184 Pages (2009-12-14)
list price: US$21.99 -- used & new: US$21.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1849028869
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Charles Williams had a genius for choosing strange and exciting themes for his novels and making them believable and profoundly suggestive of spiritual truths. Beneath the brilliant and imaginative surface of his "supernatural thrillers" lies a concealed and meticulously thought-out Christian message. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (23)

4-0 out of 5 stars Book came in fun, funny wrapping
The book was wrapped in paper with cute decorations that my wife enjoyed. It's in fine condition.

1-0 out of 5 stars Don't expect Tolkien or Lewis
I had high expectations of and genuinely looked forward to reading "All Hallows' Eve," knowing that the author, Charles Williams, was one of the famous Inklings, a small literary group that included the great J.R.R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis. If you're a fan of Tolkien or Lewis, dial down your expectations for "All Hallows' Eve."

I know I will not win any plaudits or "Recommend this review" for my review, but this is my honest reaction, so take it for what it's worth.

The book, as any one reading this no doubt has already gathered, is about a twilight world inhabited by the souls of the dead, which is beside our world of the living. In fact, the entire first chapter is about one of the characters, a recently-deceased woman named Lester, who just realized she has died and is wandering the twilight version of London. The chapter, as is the entire book, is composed of very very long paragraphs about Lester's "inner life" of meandering thoughts. This alone should be a warning to any potential reader that this book is not reader-friendly.

The rest of the book is about how the twilight world intersects with the world of the living, centering on 7 characters. They are Lester & her friend Evelyn (an unpleasant character), both of the twilight world; Lester's husband, Richard; a friend of Richard, an artist named Jonathan; Jonathan's paramour, Betty; Betty's adopted mother, an imperious Lady Wallingford; and Father Simon, aka Simon Le Clerc (Simon the Clerk). The latter pretends to be a Christian minister, but is really a sorcerer, magus, or magician who practices the dark arts of the occult. Simon wields a hynoptic mesmerizing power over his "congregation," including Lady Wallingford. Simon also means to take over & rule both worlds.

Since I'm an academic, I'm used to reading dense & reader-unfriendly writing. But I found myself unable to get through this book. I do not care for Charles Williams' writing (the long paragraphs & the focus on a character's interior life). I found the main characters to be unappealing & unengaging; I could not even find ONE character whom I like. One of the reviewers here lauded the book on its use of & descriptions of two paintings by Jonathan. While I concur, that only made me compare "All Hallows' Eve" to Oscar Wilde's "The Picture of Dorian Gray." Alas, the comparison is not to Charles Williams' favor.

1-0 out of 5 stars Very difficult read
I had heard so much hype about this supposedly fantastic author and was hugely disappointed.I had to force myself to finish the book, unnecessarily wordy, taking away from the story line or moral message he was trying to get across.This made what could have been an interesting story a very boring story.It was just steeped w/ very heavy spiritual symbolism that you'd have to be Dante to figure out.I was embarrassed that I had recommended it for our Halloween pick for my book club.Of what use is a spiritual message if you can't even bring yourself to read it?

5-0 out of 5 stars Amazing
This is one of the greatest novels I've ever been forced to read in school.I recommend to all of my friends after having read it in my upper-level undergraduate Literature class.Read this book!

4-0 out of 5 stars The subtle, christian forerunner to the Twilight Zone?
This is a ghost story, but not a horror story.You may get chills reading it, but not always from "the creeps". On the other hand, you may finish it wondering just what the heck you just read. I submit to you All Hallows' Eve-- definitely not for everybody.

All Hallows' Eve is Charles Williams' last novel, written and set in WW2 England. It starts shortly after the tragic deaths of two women friends, Evalyn and Lester, in a bizarre collision, and neither is aware at first that they have died. They wander a weirdly deserted London separately for a brief time before meeting up, which gives the author an opportunity to focus on Lester's inner spiritual journey as she slowly confronts some unattractive truths about herself and her important relationships with her husband and her friends. In a separate but intersecting storyarc, Lester's surviving husband and his artist friend cross paths with a popular cult leader, Simon Le Clerc. This disturbing figure has a hidden past that is revealed only to us, the readers, as the plot unfolds.He is shaping up to be something not unlike an antichrist of sorts who is conducting covert, occultic experiments on the artist's love interest, Betty Wallingford, who is the daughter of one of Le Clerc's most devoted followers.

Williams makes use of Betty's nighttime passages to scratch the surface of an alternate universe which Evelyn, Lester and (presumably) other newly-deceased inhabit. It is simply described as the City, and although it bears a surface resemblance to London, it is more of an infrastructure to London, or perhaps the Platonic Ideal of London...possibly something more. Many things in this realm tantalize us with glimpses of hidden spiritual truths, and time itself seems to have no linear requirement; past, present and future flashbacks occur without regard to conventional order.I was left with the sense that I would have liked to discover more about this City, and as this is my first Williams novel, who knows..he may indeed refer to it in his other stories.

I'm not sure what sort of person would be best prepared to read this final Charles Williams novel. The author (an Anglican, or so I've read) clearly gives his audience much credit, as he allows us to draw our own conclusions about either the allegorical or the literal truths he dallies with along the storyline; he never force-feeds or "preaches". Somebody moderately educated in various religious history and/or theology would recognize a lot of the hints and references Williams makes along the way to telling his story. I wouldn't say that you must be a Christian to appreciate it, but it might help. On the other hand, I would only recommend this book to a mature Christian who has some direct study of the bible under his belt and yet a non-legalistic attitude toward their christian fiction. Certainly the reader would benefit from an ability to appreciate mysticism.

All Hallows' Eve was recommended to me by A Reader's Delight, which appeals to readers who crave rare literary treasures from various genres. Williams' writing style is rich and many-layered, so that I may have to read All Hallows' Eve several times to extract everything I should from it in time. Take that under advisement, and if the shoe fits, do try.
-Andrea, aka Merribelle
... Read more

4. Essays Presented to Charles Williams
by C.S. Lewis
 Paperback: 146 Pages (1966-06)
list price: US$3.95
Isbn: 0802811175
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5. The Descent of the Dove
by Charles Williams
Paperback: 256 Pages (2001-04-06)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$15.89
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1573832073
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars spiritual history
Descent of the Dove is a spiritual history of the church - it covers an immense amount of historical ground in a short space, but does so with an overarching sense of the spiritual significance of outer events that is profound.

5-0 out of 5 stars Insightful Refresher on Church History
This book encapsulates Williams' view of the trajectory of church history.For Williams, church history has developed around a series of conflicts between opposing theological positions that threatened to tear the church apart.At each juncture, at which the church had the potential to reject some essential doctrine, a figure arose to reconcile the opposites and achieve continuing unity.(In more traditional theology, the Holy Spirit's primary role in the Christian life is to maintain unity, hence Williams' focus on the Holy Spirit in church history--the book is implicitly a history of Christian unity.)Williams suggests that these tensions are actually recurrences of one basic conflict within the church between the "Negative Way" (or the Way of Rejection) and the "Affirmative Way."Theologians will associate these ways with the apophatic and cataphatic traditions, respectively.Williams argues that these two strains of theology, while always in tension throughout church history, are not only reconcilable, but necessary for the full flourishing of the church's life.

Although the book is quite short, it is not a popular history of Christianity.(A thorough but readable church history for beginners is Justo L. Gonzalez's _The Story of Christianity_in two volumes.)Williams' book is a thesis-driven supplement for those who already know the outline of church history but who want insight into it, or for those who once studied church history but have forgotten it.But the book is not a scholarly treatment of church history; it is neither comprehensive nor densely written, as a scholarly book would be.It is rather an insightful analysis of the resilience of Christian faith.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Ghostly History and Mystery
How does one tell the nearly 2000 year history of the relationship between the Body of Christ and the Holy Spirit? Charles Williams was well-read, thoughtful, and ambitious enough to try, and this book is the result. And beyond the history of the incorruptible Spirit of Eternal God informing and otherwise dealing with His ever mutating and apparently ever corruptible Church is the Mystery of their mutual "co-inherence." Williams is superb in continually reminding the reader of just how profound and multi-faceted this on-going puzzlement is.

The more familiar one is with both Williams' writing and neo-Platonic outlook on the one hand and Church (and European) history on the other, the more rewarding will be this book. However, if one is new to both, he should not plan to begin with this work. Parts of it will be nearly incomprehensible. If like me, you're already a fan of Williams and know a fair amount of Church history, you may still occasionally be put off by wading through yet another patch of "clotted glory" and then suddenly enthralled by his insight, perspective, and original way with language. If you plan to read Descent of the Dove, plan to take your time. You will probably need to and you will certainly want to.

5-0 out of 5 stars Church History from William's View
This book has been out of print for some time like so many of William's writings.Several years ago I ordered a used copy for an extravagant amount of money, so it is nice to see it for a decent price.This book is a summary of church history as seen from William's characteristic vision of the distinction and the interrelationship between The Way of Negation and the Way of Affirmation.Many of the figures and movements that Williams covers are traditional but they are illuminated in exciting new ways by his thought. The chapter on the Reformation alone is worth the price of the whole book.Others are non-traditional, for example, his very brief positive and cryptic mention of a group called the subinductae in the early church.If you have a taste for Williams at all (which many do not) you won't be disappointed.

4-0 out of 5 stars erudition and style
This book truly expresses the depth and universality of Christ's offer of redemption. Although some have called him difficult, Williams writes with wonderful erudition and style. This is my favorite book by Williams. If youlike the writing of C.S. Lewis and George MacDonald, I recommend this book. ... Read more

6. Descent into Hell, a Novel
by Charles Williams
Paperback: 222 Pages (1999-01-01)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$6.18
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0802812201
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
The key to William's mystically oriented theological thought, Descent into Hell (arguably William's greatest novel) is a multidimensional story about human beings who shut themselves up in their own narcissicstic projections, so that they are no longer able to love, to "co-inhere". The result is a veritable hell.Amazon.com Review
In Charles Williams's novel Descent into Hell, Hellturns out to be nothing other than a refusal to see things as theyreally are. Arguably his finest novel, the "descent" in the titlehappens to an ordinary (if extraordinarily selfish) historian namedWentworth, whose daily choices to cheat on the truth slowly but surelylead him into a terrifying state of isolation and egotism. Heaven, bycontrast, is increasingly inhabited by the novel's heroine, PaulineAnstruther, who as the book proceeds learns to face her fears (and herancestors!) and to love the truth exactly as it is. The plot turnsaround the latest production of fictional playwright Peter Stanhope,but for Williams Pauline's realization of the divine glory incarnatein all of life is the deeper truth that sustains this and every otherdrama. --Doug Thorpe ... Read more

Customer Reviews (28)

5-0 out of 5 stars You Must Read This Book
Disregard the review on the back cover -- it's woefully inadequate. "Descent Into Hell" explores the meaning of "it is not good for man to be alone"; if we will not be a burden on others, we cannot hope to love and be loved, we cannot hope to become fully human. Charles Williams' prose is poetic and unfamiliar to many modern ears but with a little diligence, the reader will discover the remarkable beauty of his writing style (and perhaps go on to read his other novels and writing). "Descent Into Hell" is part sci-fi, part religious, part fantasy and wholly personal. It speaks to each reader and requires them to examine their own relationships. I give this book to most of my friends at some point or other and they find it life-changing because Williams dares to speak of that which we find distasteful: our need for each other, what having that need fulfilled entails and the various ways we can reject each other even while entering into relationships. If you only read one book this year, read "Descent Into Hell." It's that important and that good.

4-0 out of 5 stars Pleased
When I received the book in the mail, I was pleased to see it was in good shape.

5-0 out of 5 stars Charles Williams, the master of imagination
This books explores the concept of death, looking into the minds of distinct characters. Williams delves into imaginations of characters in the story, and effectually impacts the imaginations of readers. He teaches the reader to live fearlessly, and to live well by learning to die well.

4-0 out of 5 stars Flawed Masterpiece
Charles Williams was clearly a brilliant and truly original thinker but his literary style was tragically unequal to the task of expressing his genius.
Descent into Hell is one of the more successful of his "spiritual thrillers"- a genre specific to Williams.

At their erratic best Williams's novels are able to illustrate the dependence of his characters' ordinary everyday lives on the transcendant , spiritual and eternal.In this his prose appears three dimensional whereas all other novels seem two dimensional.At their worst ,however, his characters are trite,hiswriting opaque and his themes veer into the murky areas of the occult.

It seems in his youth Williams joined a rosicrucian society- and some of this hermetic junk appears in his novels ( more so in The Greater Trumps and Many Dimensions).

In Descent into Hell Williams provides a chilling vision of the abyss in his characters who with full knowledge and free willhave chosen to cut themselves from all else besides themselves, and so create a hell for themselves whether in this life or the next.Hope is provided by his characters who have chosen the path of substitutive love ( one of Williams's key theological principles ) and so attain Heaven.

It is a pity that Charles Williams's totally original ideas and literary genre were not taken up and expressed more clearly by a more skilful writer: Dorothy L Sayers ( who was one of his admirers ) springs to mind, but sadly did not take up the challenge.

Having said this it is still true that Williams's novels are unique and are well worth reading despite their flaws.

5-0 out of 5 stars Terribly good
This book is "terribly good".It is about damnation and redemption;about horror and joy.The damnation is truly horribly, and the redemption is truly wonderful.And he gets the categories correct: damnation comes from within, and redemption comes from without.This is a very important point that many today do not undersatand. ... Read more

7. Confidentially Yours
by Charles Williams
 Paperback: 1 Pages (1984-01-03)
list price: US$2.95
Isbn: 0140069615
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8. Letters to Lalage: The Letters of Charles Williams to Lois Lang-Sims
by Charles Williams
 Paperback: 97 Pages (1989-12)
list price: US$16.50 -- used & new: US$4.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0873383982
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9. The Greater Trumps (Paperback)
by Charles Williams
 Paperback: 182 Pages (2009-12-14)
list price: US$21.99 -- used & new: US$21.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1849028885
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Charles Williams had a genius for choosing strange and exciting themes for his novels and making them believable and profoundly suggestive of spiritual truths. Beneath the brilliant and imaginative surface of his "supernatural thrillers" lies a concealed and meticulously thought-out Christian message. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

4-0 out of 5 stars must read again soon
Read this book at the recommendation of several other authors that I had been reading. Most interesting but confusing novel. The characters seem very inconsistent (aren't we all) and do strange things that in no way relate to Christianity as I understand it. Nevertheless, it was interesting enough that I will re-read the book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great but Confusing Read
I really enjoyed reading "The Greater Trumps."Not having any knowledge about the Tarot cards left me a little behind, but I belive that the morale to the story is to love, completely, without reserve, from a position of great personal self knowledge.

5-0 out of 5 stars Notes On "The Greater Trumps"
This excerpt is taken from:
"Charles WIlliams - Poet Of Theology" pp. 76-78
by Glen Cavaliero

Just as heat is the pervading element in "The Place of the Lion", so the pervading element of "The Greater Trumps is cold". Much of the action takes place in an isolated country house during a raging snowstorm on Christmas Day, a microscopic drama dominated almost to breaking-point by its central symbol, the Tarot pack, most ancient and mysterious of playing cards. Williams draws on his knowledge of the Kaballa for his account of them, and, as with the Grail and the Stone, uses them as a symbol of the creative power of God. He relates them to a group of magical golden figures, similar to those portrayed on the greater trumps, figures whose perpetual motion corresponds to the ever-lasting dance which is the rhythm and pattern of the universe. When the original cards and the images are brought together, the fortunes of the world can be read, for the relation between them constitutes the true knowledge of reality.

The fortuitous reassembling of cards and images provides the mainspring of the plot. The figures are hidden in the house of Aaron Lee, latest of a long line of gipsy guardians, now 'civilized'. His grandson, Henry, finds the cards in the possession of Mr Lothair Coningsby (a Warden in lunacy - both his name and occupation are pleasing but superfluous jokes), whose daughter Nancy he is engaged to marry. Through her, by using the spiritual energy of their mutual love, he plans to possess and rule the cards - the blasphemy against love degrading him to the level of the false magicians of the earlier books. The cards have magical properties controlling the four elements. Following their owner's refusal to part with them, Henry unleashes on him the forces of rain and wind, only to lose the cards in the storm, which as a result breaks out of his control. But Nancy, who loves without calculation, restores the remaining cards to the images and thus re-establishes the balance of nature.

The novel is a drama of vain desire and the nature of the re-conciliation between such desire and its only possible fulfillment. The separation of the cards from the images symbolizes the separation between reason and knowledge, and provides yet another myth of that condition (also imaged in the stricken state of Israel, of the Fisher King, of Balder and of Osiris) described here as 'the mystical severance [which] had manifested in action the exile of the will from its end'. ("The Greater Trumps", p.154) It is an image of the Fall.

The union between the human will and its destined and unavoidable end is indicated through the figures of Nancy and her aunt Sybil. The latter is Williams's most elaborate portrait of achieved sanctity: she lives in a condition of joyous calm, ironic, affectionate, secure, beholding 'the primal Nature' (the nature of co-inherent triune Godhead) 'revealed as a law to the creature'." Williams was always chary of using the name of God in his work, for so all embracing a synonym blunts imaginative response; and his account of Sybil's spiritual journey is the more convincing for the omission.

Sybil's anti-type is Joanna, the embodiment of emotional frustration. An old gipsy, convinced that she is the divine Isis (though in Williams's world such identifications usually have some justification), she vainly searches for her dead child, craving the Tarot cards as a means of satisfying her own warped will to love, warped since it is an example of the inevitably thwarted human urge to love on one's own terms rather than to accommodate one's self will to its predestined end.

Nancy, on the other hand, is awakened in time to make that accommodation: her vision of romantic love as being the start of a vocation recalls the similar awakening of the Duchess of Mantua, Williams's 'Chaste Wanton'.

'But I can't', [Nancy] exclaimed, 'turn all this' - she laid her hand on her heart - 'towards everybody. It can't be done; it only lives for - him.'

'Nor even that', Sybil said. 'It lives for and in itself. You can only give it back to itself.'

- "The Greater Trumps", p.69

This sense of vocation is brought to life by Nancy's horror on finding that the beloved Henry is trying to kill her father - the Impossibility again. Sybil sends her to Henry in order to reaffirm their love, and to unite its mystery with the mystery of the Dance, by giving the cards back to the images and thus quelling the storm. But they must do this together; only in so far as they are lovers have they power rooted in exchange. Henry himself is lost in the mist which surrounds the images and comes to a knowledge of his real self through a vision of the perpetually falling tower of Babel, itself one of the greater trumps. Assenting to his defeat, he is purged to share again the mystery of love.

The Greater Trumps is a closely knit book, in which the symbol of the dance recurs repeatedly. The magical golden images mark the different capacities of man and the facts which those capacities exist to encounter: again the unity of inward and out-ward is stressed. But the symbolism is not fully worked out, for the speed with which these novels were written tells badly on The Greater Trumps. Nowhere does Williams have such a rich and suggestive complex of imagery, and nowhere does he throw it away so carelessly. He displays an impatient imagination, and there is a disproportion between the profundity of the theme and the frequent frivolity of its expression. 'This also is Thou: neither is this Thou' is not an easy maxim to sustain in literary performance, and in this novel Williams appears to have been overwhelmed by his material.

2-0 out of 5 stars Huh?????
Before getting into the novel I think it worth saying that if you aren't already familiar with the Tarot and the "meaning" of the various "picture cards" then you are likely to find this very hard going indeed.
The Preface, by Charles Lindsey Gresham (who?), offersdescriptions of the 22 (or 21?) "Greater Trumps", but these are not particularly helpful, firstly because they are so brief, secondly because they don't match many of the illustrations provided at the front and back of the book!

Anyway, on with the story - such as it is.
In fact I won't go over the story again because the previous reviewers have, between them, successfully summarised the entire plot.All you'll get in addition, in the book, is a highly convoluted, prolix version of the same set of basic elements.

Having much enjoyed almost all of Williams' novels I was prepared to give this one every chance.But by half way through I was already reading just to reach the punchline.And when it finally came I felt, as previous reviewers have said, thoroughly unsatisfied and wondering why I had bothered.

Those who are well-versed in the mysteries of the Tarot, and those who like their literature as obscure as possible may find this a worthwhile read.For the rest of us, even the Charles Williamds fans, my personal response is "forget it"!

5-0 out of 5 stars The Knowledge of the Fool & The Everlasting Dance
Over the years I have read and re-read this 1932 novel by Charles Williams many times - it continues to fascinate me, exerts a peculiar hold upon my mind andprovides unfailingstimulus for thought and contemplation (it is undoubtedly the most readable and entertaining of his works of fiction). 'The Greater Trumps' is a very strange sort of novel, a mystical thriller if you like, featuring the prototypal deck of Tarot cards which has by odd chance fallen into the hands of the prosaic and unimaginative Mr.Coninsgby. His daughter Nancy is being wooed by a young lawyer of Gypsy descent, Henry Lee and when he sees the deck the spiritual drama begins and the Coningsby's are invited to spend Christmas at the lonely house of Henry Lee's grandfather Aaron Lee who guards the secret inheritance of the Romanies and has long sought the innermost mysteries of the Tarot. A conspiracy to ruthlessly obtain the Tarotsat all costs is afoot and here we have a central theme of Charles Williams' novels - the intended profaning of a sacred Mystery by those who would abuse it for ego-aggrandizement and the quest for personal power. In 'The Greater Trumps' the classic tarot figure of 'The Falling Tower' is the symbol of the fate which invariably engulfs those who attempt to lay hold of the Holy Mysteries of Magic to satisfy the all-too-egoic thirst for power and ascendancy and this timeless message is as pertinent as ever in an age where debased occultism of questionable motivation is all too prevalent. Henry and Aaron Lee's dark quest to wrest the Tarots from Mr Coningsby and murder him unwittingly unleashes primal powers which are entirely beyond their ability to control -for the archetypal potencies of the Divine World cannot be controlled or manipulated by the unworthy for their own ends and the attempt to do so cannot be made with impunity: thus the novel builds up to a compelling denouement which is also a transfiguring and mystical meditation upon the all-prevailing power of pure love...
The characterization in this novel is quite superb, from the romantic high spirits of Nancy, the faustian ambition of Henry Lee and the sublime equanimity of Aunt Sybil who amongst all the characters has truly attained to a high degree of spiritual freedom and thus plays a pivotal role: Sybil's selfless and calm wisdom contrasts strikingly with the hubristic greed of the magical 'adepts'. The dialogue is period 1930's and thus possess a charm all of it's own and the plot is superbly realised.
But skilfully woven through this brilliant and cautionary tale of young love, unlawful lust for power, satires on conventional mindedness and supernatural high jinks is an extended esoteric meditation upon the emblems of the Tarot as timeless Mysteries of Power, Images, Divine Ideas, Virtues and eternal Platonic Forms which is uniquely insightful, penetrating and unparalleled in its profundity. The suggestiveconcepts concerning Tarot which Williams imparts throughout are truly extraordinary. This beautifully-written novel conveys an exciting narrative which is at the same time a penetrating moral exploration of man's spiritual motivations and inner relation to the sacred. I consider 'The Greater Trumps' to be Charles Williams' little-known fictional masterpiece, an occult novel of rare brilliance. ... Read more

10. Shadows of Heaven: Religion and Fantasy in the Writing of C. S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and J. R. R. Tolkien (Religion and Other Disciplines)
by Gunnar Urang
 Hardcover: 186 Pages (1971-06)
list price: US$7.95
Isbn: 0829801979
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Must Read for all Hobbits, Elves, Dwarves, & Big People
Urang's book was published in 1971, during an earlier focus upon Tolkien, as well as his colleagues Lewis and Williams.This was originally written as Urang's dissertation on theology and fantasy writing.Urang's writing is precise, engaging, and fascinating.It is an excellent book to read for Tolkien fans and others.I'm amazed that it hasn't been brought back into print, yet.I highly recommend it!

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book, too bad it's not still in Print
For fans of Tolkien, CS Lewis and Charles Williams, this is a must read.Urang does tremendous work as he relates these excellent writers to theology and religious teaching.

Peter Carey ... Read more

11. Charles Williams: Essential Writings in Spirituality and Theology
by Charles Williams
Paperback: 230 Pages (1993-03)
list price: US$12.95 -- used & new: US$21.60
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Asin: 1561010731
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
Charles Williams was an editor at Oxford University Pressuntil his death in 1945 and a member of the Inklings, the literarysociety started by J. R. R. Tolkien. To modern readers he is bestknown for his novels, but he is also the author of literary criticism(The Figure of Beatrice), church history (The Descent of theDove), verse plays, and epic poetry, as well as the works of theologyfrom which this collection is drawn. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Co-Inherence in Our Time
Charles W. Williams is, in many ways, the "forgotten" member of the Inklings, a literary group that more famously included C.S. Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien, among others. His most well-known works are the seven"Theological Thrillers", i.e, "All Hallows Eve","The Place of the Lion", "Shadows of Ecstasy","The Greater Trumps", "War in Heaven", "Descentinto Hell", and "Many Dimensions". There are few, if any,novels like them inmodern English literature, and they truly are"thrilling" - frightening (Stephen King is a piker bycomparison), uplifting, amazing, and simply glorious. Williams' literaryoutput was considerably larger, and included poetry, literary criticism,and especially philosophy and theology. This volume is a dense but in theend highly satisfying taste of his theology and spirituality, which is richand deep, to say the least, and includes a discussion of his uniqueconstructions of "Co-inherence" and "Substitution".While a knowledge of his seven novels is useful, a new reader will findthis collection to be a fascinating reflection of a towering thinker whohas been much overlooked, but hopefully will find a new audience in ourtime. Highly recommended. One can only hope that more of his works willsoon be back in print.

5-0 out of 5 stars Co-Inherence in Our Time
Charles W. Williams is, in many ways, the "forgotten" member of the Inklings, a literary group that more famously included C.S. Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien, among others. His most well-known works are the seven"Theological Thrillers", i.e, "All Hallows Eve","The Place of the Lion", "Shadows of Ecstasy","The Greater Trumps", "War in Heaven", "Descentinto Hell", and "Many Dimensions". There are few, if any,novels like them inmodern English literature, and they truly are"thrilling" - frightening (Stephen King is a piker bycomparison), uplifting, amazing, and simply glorious. Williams' literaryoutput was considerably larger, and included poetry, literary criticism,and especially philosophy and theology. This volume is a dense but in theend highly satisfying taste of his theology and spirituality, which is richand unique, to say the least, and includes a discussion of his uniqueconstructions of "Co-inherence" and "Substitution".While a knowledge of his seven novels is useful, a new reader will findthis collection to be a fascinating reflection of a towering thinker whohas been much overlooked, but hopefully will find a new audience in ourtime. Highly recommended. One can only hope that more of his works willsoon be back in print. ... Read more

12. A Charles Williams Reader
by Charles Williams
Hardcover: 256 Pages (2000-06-26)
list price: US$24.00 -- used & new: US$34.56
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Asin: 0802839061
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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This reader brings together three of Charles Williams’s best-known novels—Descent into Hell, Many Dimensions, and War in Heaven. These powerful stories represent the high point of Charles Williams’s genius and illustrate the mystically and theologically oriented themes so characteristic of his work. Whether read independently or as a loose trilogy, each of these psychological thrillers explores our very real relation to the supernatural world lying just behind the appearances of daily life.

The first selection, Descent into Hell (1937), is arguably Charles Williams’s greatest novel. It is a multidimensional story about people who close themselves in with self-centeredness until they are no longer able to love. The result is hell on earth. Many Dimensions (1931) offers a haunting look at the evil that penetrates the human heart. Replete with rich religious imagery, this tale explores the nature of predestination and free will and the ends to which they lead. In War in Heaven (1930), Charles Williams gives a contemporary setting to the traditional story of the search for the Holy Grail. This eerily disturbing work takes readers on a Bunyanesque journey through the shadowy places of the human mind.

Now available for the first time in a single volume, these three classic novels by one of the masters of religious fiction are sure to delight a new generation of readers. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great writer, overlooked
I have recently begun rereading Tolkien, Lewis, and now Charles Williams. In my reading I have discovered the debt I owe to these mid-twentieth century writers. Their messages are harmonious and I find that I have incorporated them into my life to a degree I had not realized.

I have just finished Descent Into Hell from this compilation. Some of Williams' themes include: respect for truth, beginning with respect for fact; the interrelationship between people as a necessary part of life; acceptance of what exists, for life as it comes rather than worrying or wishing it were different (this is useful when the air conditioning doesn't work); and the knowledge of a deep underpinning of joy in our lives - "peace I give to you." These themes consciously shape my life every day, and I had forgotten that they are best expressed in the writings of Williams, Lewis and Tolkien.

I can't think of greater praise for a book or set of books, and this book certainly deserves my thanks.

Williams' writing is interesting. He cannot simply narrate events because his ideas are deep and complex. So each chapter is a balance between metaphysical description, either from a characters viewpoint or as simple exposition, and plot action. This works surprisingly well in his work. Williams slides from metaphor to metaphor and ties diverse plot lines into the same locale or set of events. The reading is rich but not difficult. The premises and their implications are fun and reminiscent of Philip K. Dick. These books - at least the two I've read - are fun and page turners.

If you like good Christian literature that will shape your life even as you enjoy it, I recommend Charles Williams.

4-0 out of 5 stars The greatest and least known 'Inkling'
Charles Williams died prematurely in 1945.If he had not, I suspect he would have been at least as well known as his great friend C.S.Lewis and almost as much read as his other Oxford
'Inkling' friend J.R.R.Tolkien.He is the most intellectually rigorous of them, shared their enthusiasm for books like E.R.Eddison's The Worm Oroborous and David Lindsay's A Voyage to Arcturus, and wrote books of considerable originality and strangeness. Many Dimensions, for instance, deals with Islamic spirituality (via Sufism and its Persian elements) as thoroughly as Descent into Hell deals with Christian theology.Williams's
sense of evil and what evil actually is was far stronger and better worked out that the more conventional villainies of Tolkien, Lewis or some of the lesser Inklings. This is a very fine introduction to his best work, which always starts straight in with a bang and never lets up, taking twists and turns which remain absolutely original, can be utterly terrifying, yet rarely leave the familiar world of the 1930s.He is an absorbing and addictive writer whose work has much to say to us on many levels and who should be read by anyone who enjoys ambitious and adult fantasy of the kind offered by Jonathan Carroll, Michael Moorcock or some of the great modern English fantasts. ... Read more

13. The Pattern in the Web: The Mythical Poetry of Charles Williams
by Roma Alvah, Jr. King
 Hardcover: 200 Pages (1990-10)
list price: US$28.00 -- used & new: US$28.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0873384121
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14. The Place of the Lion
by Charles Williams
Hardcover: 174 Pages (2010-06-26)
list price: US$28.99 -- used & new: US$26.09
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Asin: 184902703X
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
Charles Williams had a genius for choosing strange and exciting themes for his novels and making them believable and profoundly suggestive of spiritual truths. Beneath the brilliant and imaginative surface of his "supernatural thrillers" lies a concealed and meticulously thought-out Christian message. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (11)

4-0 out of 5 stars Multiple Meanings in The Place of the Lion
In The Place of the Lion Williams writes an elaborate Revelations kind of prophecy, blending realism with the supernatural and symbolic.The place of the lion is earth; the lion is both a Form for the supernatural beings medievalists called Intelligences, and the symbol for man, as the lion in the story is a hybrid of both.This is the opposite of what Williams' friend, C.S. Lewis, made of the lion in The Chronicles of Narnia, where it symbolized God.In Williams' book this is the eagle.The eagle is also the Form the protagonist, Anthony, identifies with, if not interchanges with.Other animals represent multiple meanings too, such as the snake is a literal threat to Anthony, as well as a Form, such as Aristotle called it, for the supernatural force to come into our world, and the symbol for Satan or evil.

The mixture of meanings reflects the theme of the other world opening up into, and destroying, this world.Williams portrays the chaos and confusion this could cause, and the various kinds of reactions by characters.The most substantial characters - Anthony, Damaris, his beloved, and his friend Quentin - all have some knowledge of the supernatural world as depicted in literature and the Bible, but they don't necessarily believe it until it impinges on their world.For instance, Damaris studies and writes her thesis on medieval literature, specifically Abelard.She is aware of the religious beliefs of the period, but she does not share them.They are only of academic interest.It is only after an encounter in which Abelard comes alive, and becomes death, that she realizes the truth - that Abelard was real, not just an historical figure or concept.

Williams integrates his interest in philosophy and literature without becoming overbearing or too obscure (a criticism made by friends of other works of his).Christianity is the true account to which the story conforms, but it also incorporates Plato's Ideas, Aristotle's Forms, and the argument between universals and specifics that Abelard became noted for, at least in his own autobiography.

4-0 out of 5 stars Thinking outside the box

Catagorized as science fiction/fantasy, this book is really about the forces of good and evil juxtiposed with Christianity.Incredibily written to challenge the scholar, it dances with the imagination and takes the reader to nearly horrific heights of dark evil.The book is short and that is good, as the imagery and narative make you ready to be done reading it.Don't take that comment as a negative, take it as a nod to the power of the book.One tip, the action is complicated and it is far better to read it in one or two sittings than reading chapters here and there, time permitting.Once you get in the cadence of it, it's hard to put down.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Delight To Read
I have only recently become acquainted with Charles Williams, a contemporary and friend af J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, whose books I have been reading for decades.This is a wonderful book, in the sense that it is full of wonder.It is not for everyone, but if you are one who contemplates the greater meaning of things, or enjoy reading about the interaction of the natural with the supernatural, you will enjoy this book.

3-0 out of 5 stars Too Platonic?
Williams has a narrative gift that reminds you of Chesterton, and when he's telling the story and unfolding events, it's an exciting read. But in his intellectual zeal, the old principle about "show, don't tell" is cast aside--much of the time is taken up in raptured abstraction and grandly obscure history and philosophizing that quickly become tedious (because unclear) and repetitive. He is given to sudden visionary scene shifts that make heavy picture-drawing demands of the reader's mind, made all the harder going by his breathless clauses upon clauses, which as a technique are supposed to gather the soul up into heights undreamed of, but actually read as purple and overwrought.

Williams has an odd way of both under- and over-explaining, taking for granted he's defined his historical or philosophical terms in a precise and usable way for the purposes of the narrative while loudly "tour-guiding" symbols the reader can easily recognize (such as that, for random example, the burning house is the burning bush). His characters are forever stopping the action for a bit of postgrad seminar instead of letting the action unfold the message, perhaps due to lack of trust in the reader.

This is a difficult book, but it's not because Williams ideas are difficult to grasp--they aren't--or rather, they wouldn't be if he expressed them better. It's difficult because the author won't stick to his last and tell a story. The characters are undeveloped except in the most unfair deus ex machina way; the action stops and starts like a lurching bus, always having to slam on the brakes as some verbiage crosses the road; the plot is almost an afterthought, with loose ends everywhere untied. The ideas that animate this book are interesting, and there's certainly nothing wrong with Williams' mind or erudition; but as a novelist, Williams has a hard time moving from the Idea to the Thing and staying with it.

I would recommend this book as a group read, because there's plenty to talk about, but it's nowhere near Lewis, Tolkien, or Chesterton when it comes to throwing a rope around the archetypal and numinous and bringing it home to modern man.

3-0 out of 5 stars Apocalypse Where?
Once again, Mr. Williams fantasizes the eruption of eschatological events into the ordinary life of the provincial British bourgeoisie.The result is something like the literary offspring of the mating of P.G. Wodehouse with the Book of Revelations.One thing that is rarely discussed, though, is the strange brand of comedy that ensues.For example, picture a young woman sitting at her breakfast table and pondering the remarkable events of the previous evening:A giant pterodactyl, which seems to incarnate the essence of her own self-centeredness and bears something of a resemblance to Peter Abelard, has attempted to assault her by smashing through her bedroom window, ultimately destroying the upper stories of her house while virtually obliterating her father in the process.In the nick of time, she is saved from complete physical and spiritual annihilation by the arrival of her boyfriend riding a unicorn and with an enormous eagle resting on his shoulder.Little wonder she seems distracted as she butters her toast!
I'd agree with my fellow reviewer who notes that a passing familiarity with Plato's Ideals is really all the philosophical preparation a reader needs to jump into this novel.However, a little extra reading regarding Abelard's take on "universals" might add a little extra spice - since Abelard is the subject of the heroine's (the pterodactyl girl) doctoral dissertation.I'd suggest the article "The Medieval Problem of Universals" in the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
... Read more

15. The Theology of Romantic Love: A Study in the Writings of Charles Williams
by Mary McDermott Shideler
Paperback: 243 Pages (2005-12)
list price: US$26.00 -- used & new: US$26.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1597523348
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16. Loathsome Jews and Engulfing Women: Metaphors of Projection in the Works of Wyndham Lewis, Charles Williams, and Graham Greene (Literature and Psychology)
by Andrea Loewenstein
 Paperback: 488 Pages (1995-06-01)
list price: US$23.00 -- used & new: US$6.59
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0814750966
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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"A remarkable study, one that I recommend to any reader fascinated by the shaping of culture and the power of the psyche."
&3151;The Forward

How typical of his generation was T.S. Eliot when he complained that Hitler made an intelligent anti-semitism impossible for a generation?In her new book, Loathsome Jews and Engulfing Women, novelist and critic, Andrea Freud Loewenstein examines the persistent anti-semitic tendencies in modernist, British intellectual culture.Pursuing her subject with literary, historical, and psychological analyses, Loewenstein argues that this anti-semitism must be understood in terms of its metaphorical link with misogyny.

Situated in the context of the history of Jews in Britain, Loathsome Jews and Engulfing Women begins by questioning the widespread belief that the British government was a friend to the Jews in the 30s and 40s.Loewenstein shows that, as evident in the hypocrisy of many British governmental policies prior to and during WWII, Britain actively collaborated in the Jews' destruction.Against the backdrop of this tragic complicity in the Holocaust, Loewenstein evaluates Jewish stereotypes in the works of three representative twentieth-century British thinkers and writers.Her analysis provides a revealing critique of British modernism.

In a larger sense, Loathsome Jews and Engulfing Womenexplores the riddle of prejudice.Loewenstein argues that anti-semitism is nurtured in an environment populated by other hatreds --misogyny, homophobia, and racism.To explain the interaction of these prejudices, she develops an investigative model grounded in object relations theory and informed by the works of such theoretically diverse authors as Virginia Woolf, Kate Millett, and Alice Miller.Loewenstein lucidly argues within an autobiographical framework, insisting on the need for critics to . . . look within ourselves for 'that terrible other' rather than to complacently assume that we ourselves exist outside the ideology of power.

This well-written and readable book will be of interest to many people, ranging students of British history to psychoanalysts, from historians of Jewish culture to anyone interested in feminist and literary theory.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars CLICK!
as we used to say.Does it surpise anyone that a man from Atlanta seems to find feminist critism boring?
This is an illuminating and very interesting book, clearly written and scholorly.

1-0 out of 5 stars Can you say imaginative critiquing?
Ms Loewenstein is one of those talented individuals who is able to read verbatim Gloria Steinem in the very words of Shakespeare. This talent she artfully employs in her treatment of Charles Williams. I'm Jewish and a great fan of Charles Williams, one of the authors Ms Lowenstein critiques.

Williams, accused by some Christians of being a womanizer, occultist and universalist, is converted by Ms Loewenstein into a femalephobe, witch-hunter and Jew-hater. She does this so convincingly that those unfamiliar with the genius of his works believe her. If you are interested in spirituality and philosophy, or just looking for a crackling novel exploring the dmz between life and death, I cannot more highly recommend this author's works (I of course mean Williams's works, not those of Lowenstein). ... Read more

17. The Novels of Charles Williams
by Thomas Howard
Paperback: 298 Pages (2004-09)
list price: US$29.00 -- used & new: US$26.10
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Asin: 1592448461
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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5-0 out of 5 stars A True Guide and Faithful Friend
What Beatrice was to Dante Thomas Howard is to readers of Charles Williams, whose novels are not exactly hell to read, but some may yet find them somewhat tough going. It's a pity, because as with the Latin Mass, if we only knew what we were missing we would clamor for more. Thankfully Ignatius Press has reprinted this book by Thomas Howard so that we do have a guide through this marvelous world. In this book, originally published by Oxford Press, Thomas Howard starts with the party line that Williams is a bad writer, and then shows us why he's a very good one (Thomas Howard can be very sneaky). He explains why CW can't be considered a "major" writer, and maybe not even a good candidate for a minor one, but by the end of the book one is convinced that the label "major" is too small to fit Charles Williams.

Howard is similarly dismissive of his own writing in this book, even though it stands as one of his best (his best to date, in my opinion, is On Being Catholic). He suggests the reader not even read the whole book, but just jump around to the relevant parts for the Williams novel he/she is interested in. Here again I must express a minority opinion: The Novels of Charles Williams reads seamlessly and grippingly start to finish.

Anyone venturing into a Williams novel for the first time might find the water, as it were, initially cold and uninviting, regardless how heartily the swimmers urge him or her to dive in. Howard is like a personal trainer, both preparing the reader and helping them stay in shape when, gripped with the strange madness that afflicts readers of Williams novels, they recklessly swim further and further from shore. Howard is obviously among the initiates, and the more dismissive he is of Willaims' standing as a writer, the more you want to read him. 'Nuff said. Dive in. The water's fine. ... Read more

18. Charles Williams: Alchemy And Integration
by Gavin Ashenden
Hardcover: 275 Pages (2007-11-01)
list price: US$55.00 -- used & new: US$31.49
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Asin: 0873387813
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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5-0 out of 5 stars A review by the Archbishop of Canterbury
Charles Williams, the odd Inkling
The Archbishop of Canterbury admires a new consideration of the critic, poet and theologian
Rowan Williams

Of the three central and iconic figures of the "Inklings", Charles Williams has always been rather the odd man out in comparison with J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis. This is not only to do with Tolkien's well-documented antipathy towards Williams; there is a whiff of brimstone in the nostrils of some when they read of his involvement in hermetic or occultist groups, and of his agonized and confused sexuality. The novels are bewildering in style and content (Ashenden quotes C. S. Lewis's acerbic comment that Williams did not always know how to hit the golden mean between Dante and Wodehouse), the late poetry famously obscure, and the critical and theological essays wildly idiosyncratic. Yet it is impossible not to feel that he inhabited a larger world than either Tolkien or Lewis (as the latter acknowledged); and someone who made so deep an impact on both T. S. Eliot and W. H. Auden, neither of them carelessly generous in their literary or personal estimates of others, surely deserves a second look. Geoffrey Hill has recently stressed the energy and intelligence of Williams's work on the history of English poetry. Theologians continue to circle round the doctrinal work with nervous respect. And the late "Taliesin" poems still excite something of the same uncertain fascination in a surprising variety of readers.

In Charles Williams: Alchemy and integration, Gavin Ashenden sets himself two main tasks and performs them with elegant efficiency. The first is to investigate Williams's involvement in the occult during the 1910s and 20s. Ashenden notes that most of Williams's biographers and commentators have wrongly associated him with the Order of the Golden Dawn - a potent influence on twentieth-century Western occultism. In fact, Williams's association was with the group that broke away from the Golden Dawn under the leadership of A. E. Waite, the Fellowship of the Rosy Cross, and that attempted to adapt the Continental Rosicrucian tradition to British circumstances, rejecting ritual magic in the strict sense and building more consistently on Jewish and Christian sources.

It is clear that Williams's interest in Kabbalistic vocabulary and speculation derived almost entirely from Waite (Ashenden follows Waite's eccentric spelling, "Q'abalah" - a minor irritant in the book). Although Williams had ceased to be actively involved in the Fellowship after about 1930, there are countless traces of Waite's characteristic ideas and terminology in the novels and the Taliesin cycles. Ashenden argues persuasively that Williams's complex symbolism in these works of the human body as a kind of microcosmic geography is a development from the Kabbalistic schemata that Waite outlines. The Rosicrucian/Kabbalist melange of ideas was a crucial element in what was certainly Williams' most original contribution to twentieth century Christian thought, his theological evaluation of the erotic. And what Ashenden establishes is that this was rooted less in any occult or pseudo-tantric practice than in the bridal imagery of Kabbalist literature as mediated by Waite.

This opens up the second of the questions that Ashenden sets out to clarify. Since the publication of Lois Lang-Sims' recollections of Williams in her autobiography and the more recent publication of some of her correspondence with him, there has been much speculation about what look like elements of ritual sadism in Williams's relationships with at least some women. Balanced assessment is difficult; but what Ashenden makes clear is that the exceptionally tormented and fantasy-ridden relation with Lang-Sims was going on during a period when Williams's general mental balance was insecure. Ashenden has had access to Williams's correspondence with Phyllis Jones, the Oxford University Press secretary who had engaged his affections with dangerous intensity in the 1920s; the correspondence continued for the rest of his life. Again, earlier biographers are corrected: it has been assumed and stated that the friendship had cooled on Williams's side after Phyllis's first marriage, but the letters suggest that his mythologically charged obsession with her changed hardly at all. The point, however, is that these letters illustrate vividly the turmoil of his mind in the early 1940s. His weaving of fantasy patterns in some of what he wrote privately at this time is on the edge of the psychotic, and he was clearly under exceptional mental strain.

What seems to have restored some balance was a kind of "renegotiation" of his marriage. The word is probably misleading; Williams was never literally unfaithful to his wife, but the various intimacies with younger women were not wholly innocent or unproblematic. Yet his correspondence with his wife between 1943 and his death two years later suggests that he had come to terms afresh both with the actual and specific responsibilities proper to marriage, and with the critical and more prosaic responses of his wife to his work and lifestyle. He writes of having been anchored again in an "ordinary" humanity, rather than a near-messianic bardic isolation. Ashenden does not quote it directly, but there is a chilling moment in Lois Lang-Sims's recollections where Williams asks, with obvious self-reference, what kind of relationships are possible for someone who is not really human. It is the furthest point of his inhabiting of the bardic myth, and Ashenden's discussion strongly suggests that it was a point at which he recognized extreme danger and - consciously or not - began to work in a different way at his marriage.

Ashenden, then, tells a story of integration. Williams's obsessive mythologizing of personal sexuality settles privately into a strengthening of his marriage that better reflects the public refining of his theology of "romantic love". And Ashenden's discussions of some of the main fictional works show a parallel movement away from the fascination with spiritual power in its own right towards the developed doctrine of self-giving exchange - though that is not without its ambiguities, as the Lang-Sims correspondence shows. Charles Williams: Alchemy and integration is altogether a very well-crafted book, using a great deal of epistolary and other documentation for the first time and opening up a good many new avenues for discussion as it lays to rest some, if not quite all, of the more lurid versions of his career. It should be the first swallow of a new summer in the study of someone who was, despite the oddities and even grotesqueries, a deeply serious critic, a poet unafraid of major risks, and a theologian of rare creativity.

Rowan Williams is Archbishop of Canterbury and was formerly Lady Margaret Professor Divinity at Oxford. Published in the Times Literary Supplement.

4-0 out of 5 stars This Also is Thou
C.S. Lewis once quipped that Charles Williams, at his worst, combined the styles of Dante and P.G. Wodehouse. However, if people ever start reading Williams, it is for Wodehouse, and if they keep reading, it is for Dante. Finally, Williams probably wouldn't see any contradiction between the two. Lewis, in A Preface to Paradise Lost, credits him with reviving Milton criticism. Dorothy L. Sayers was so taken with Williams' lectures on Dante that she taught herself Italian in order to translate the Penguin editions of the Divine Comedy.

What was the magnetism of this man and his message that exercised such a spell in pre-war and wartime Britain? Although Williams was a member of the literary and discussion group known as "The Inklings" that met at the Eagle and Child pub and in Lewis' rooms at Oxford, his writing is very different than that of Lewis or Tolkien. His seven "supernatural" novels are his most accessible writings, but they still appeal to a small coterie of devoted readers.

Two rumours circulate about Williams. One, that he was a member of the Order of the Golden Dawn, an occult organisation in Britain whose members included Aleister Crowley, the self-styled "Great Beast". Two, that he had some sort of Platonic affair with a fellow employee addressed in his poetry as "Celia". I would hope for an in-depth treatment of the first topic, and a light passing over of the second. Ashenden delves deeply into both. Only long-time Williams readers could guess that the two topics are related, and they are.

On the first topic, Ashenden shows that Williams was actually a member of a different, but related group, A.E. Waite's Fellowship of the Rosy Cross, a quasi-Rosicrucian group which placed emphasis on the Kaballa, which he spells Q'abala, combining it with Anglican theology. In this scholarly study, Ashenden recreates the world of pre-war Britain, in which the Victorian inheritances of Spiritualism, Theosophy, and seances were alive and well. In the pre-TV era, reading, and especially poetry held sway. Williams, an editor for Oxford University Press, had a photographic mind, and could recite passages from hundreds of books, particularly of poetry, at the drop of a hat. He also had a vital presence in his live recitals, in which the general remark was that "he made poetry live". He had a lively interest in numerous literary topics from lecturing on Dante to writing reviews of detective fiction. C.S. Lewis immediately marked him as one of the finest minds of his day.

All of this is lost to history, and none of it comes across in his books. Or rather, almost none. It's these inklings (in a different sense) that keep readers reading. Flashes of it are to be seen in his literary reviews collected by Anne Ridler in The Image of the City. Glimpses of it are seen in the novels. Ashenden's book continually sent me to the footnote page, wondering "did Charles Williams really say that?"

Readers of Williams have long waited for a scholarly study of his work, and this is it. It's a hardback, reference book obviously aimed at libraries, and will appeal to diehard readers of the least known "Inkling", as well as those interested in occult history, secret societies, and the literary millieu of pre-war Britain. Readers new to Williams, however, may prefer the more accessible treatments of his writing in Thomas Howard's The Novels of Charles Williams, and Mary McDermott Shideler's The Theology of Romantic Love.

Tolkien was a mediaeval and linguistic scholar. The Lewis of the Narnian Chronicles also wrote on sixteenth century English literature. But it was their ability to translate their insights to a popular audience that made them such widely-read authors. Williams never quite got that knack, but his unique vision has continued to attract a small, but growing readership, and numerous other authors claim his inspiration, among them C.S. Lewis and T.S. Eliot. In this significant contribution to a growing scholarship, Ashenden shows why. ... Read more

19. He Came Down from Heaven and The Forgiveness of Sins
by Charles Williams
Paperback: 204 Pages (2005-10-01)
list price: US$18.95 -- used & new: US$17.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0976402564
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
These two long essays make up, with The Descent of the Dove, Charles Williams' principal theological writing. With these books and with The Figure of Beatrice the reader is as fully equipped as possible for studying the religious thought of this brilliant poet, novelist, essayist and historian. Charles Williams was one of the finest-not to mention one of the most unusual-theologians of the twentieth century. His mysticism is palpable-the unseen world interpenetrates ours at every point, and spiritual exchange occurs all the time, unseen and largely unlooked for. His novels are legend, and as a member of the Inklings, he contributed to the mythopoetic revival in contemporary culture. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Charles Williams Revisited
This volume collects two books that are oddities among Charles Williams' writing. They don't fit easily into the categories of fiction, plays, poetry, history or biography. Although they were well-known and oft-quoted in CW's day, they slipped out of print in ours. Although brief, they are not his lightest or easiest to read books, mainly because he often alludes to a topic or idea to make a point without explaining it, which limits his audience. On the other hand, he goes to great lengths delving into other topics, sending readers first to the dictionary and then to the library.

Forgiveness of Sins is a study of the idea of forgiveness in the Bible and in Shakespeare (a uniquely Williamsesque approach). He Came Down from Heaven takes its title from a line in the Church of England/ Catholic Creed about the Incarnation. In publishing together these brief volumes the publisher has done a great service for those readers who having read the odd CW book are eager for more, and helped bring him in range of the wider reading public. ... Read more

20. A Touch of Death (Hard Case Crime)
by Charles Williams
Mass Market Paperback: 250 Pages (2006-01-31)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$2.45
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0843955880
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (13)

5-0 out of 5 stars Peerless
Imagine Edgar Allen Poe on crack, toss in a dash of hardboiled crime, and you'll have some idea how unsettling yet satisfying this story is. You'll question your sanity and never look at a beautiful woman the same way ever again.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Touch of Wow!
As a huge Charles Williams fan, I can say without question, this is not only one his best books but one the best in the Hard Crime genre.Written in the 1954 but still timeless.A real corker of a read with all the noir elements including the classic femme fatale.Plenty of action and excitement but also a psychological thriller too.

5-0 out of 5 stars 50 STARS!! SUPERB!
Simply terrific!I read this between 1am and 4am, just taking breaks to go to toilet.Couldn't put it down until I finished it!Great writing, terrific plot with no holes in it, a wallop of an ending and best of all no sappy sex scenes to detract from the suspense.Buy it!

5-0 out of 5 stars Deadly is the female--and how!
A decade after college-football glory, Lee Scarborough has fallen on hard times. With a paltry $170 in his kick, he's sold everything but his car. When the prospect of a cool $120,000--to be picked up after he performs some shady, quick work involving modest risk--is dangled before him, he bites. And that's the setup to this ferociously entertaining 1953 thriller by the prolific Williams, whose minimalist style brings with it enough excrutiating detail to keep you in a mesmerized state locatedsomewhere between a fever dream and the bughouse. Like his fellow Gold Medal-original author, John D. MacDonald, Williams plumbs the psychology of his protagonist with grim insight--a neat trick when the protagonist is also the book's narrator. Scarborough isn't stupid, but his imagination is limited. To him, nothing matters but the money. When things begin to break bad, and the modest risk becomes a whole catalog of enormous ones, Scarborough keeps his eye on the prize. He's plenty cognizant of the mess he's in. Trouble is, the money always seems more real than the mess. Scarborough steps off the cliff completely when he gets mixed up with un-grieving widow Madelon Butler, a babe so beautiful she can stop traffic. Circumstance glues the pair together, which wouldn't be all bad from Scarborough's point of view--except that Madelon is an uber-sociopath. She's one of the great inventions of crime fiction: alluring, funny, and horrifying. Oh, yeah, she's smart, too. Way smarter than Scarborough. Chuck Pyle's period-perfect cover painting for this Hard Case Crime reissue captures Madelon in an oddly significant moment. The painting is faintly disturbing on its own terms, but look at it again--hard--after you read the scene in context. It'll scare the hell out of you. A Touch of Death might be the best title yet from the folks at Hard Case.

5-0 out of 5 stars Thank you Hard Case Crime.
Sure, the plotting of A Touch of Death by Charles Williams isn't 100% airtight.But that's easy to forgive in view of the wonderfully hardboiled dialogue and the compellingly captivating and suspense filled narrative.
It wasn't too many years ago that Lee Scarborough was a college football player of some renown.But today he's a down on his luck salesman looking for a break.When he learns that there's $120,000 in embezzled bank funds ripe for the plucking, he decides to go after it.Little does he realize he is about to cross paths with Madelon Butler, an aristocratic beauty with ice water where her blood should be.
Lee naively believes he can outsmart Madelon.Trouble is, he's playing checkers while Madelon is playing three dimensional chess.As the fast paced story unfolds, Lee's straits become more and more dire and he finds out the hard way that crime doesn't pay (at least not for him).
Charles Williams was a great writer and A Touch of Death is one of his best efforts.Highly recommended. ... Read more

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