Monday, 25 August 2014

The nature of Charles Williams influence on The Inklings - the mythologizing of everyday life

Continuing from:

If we assume that Charles Williams did indeed lead, preside-over and dominate the Inklings meetings during the period 1939-45 while he resided in Oxford; then what was the nature of his influence?

I think it likely that Charles Williams did what he always did, in all situations and with all people - that is he mythologized everyday life.

CW took the people and purposes of life and revealed the underlying mythical patterns behind them - the spiritual and poetic reality behind superficially prosaic appearances.

He did this as the Oxford University Press in Amen House, London - where he gave the staff classical names (The Publisher became Caesar, for example). He wrote Masques which allegorized the matter of publishing, he addressed people by their mythical names, he re-explained what they did in terms of very elevated roles.

His novels were exactly about this.

Whereas Lewis and Tolkien were (pre-CW) mostly writing about a linear link-up between the realities of mythic History and prosaic modern life - Williams was all about (unnatural, unreal) modern life being invaded by the supernatural which is reality.

This, I presume, was Williams work, week upon week, in the meetings with the Inklings.

I am not aware of any direct evidence to support this idea of Williams influence on the Inklings - but indirect evidence is the two post-Williams novels That Hideous Strength by CS Lewis, and The Notion Club Papers by JRR Tolkien.

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