On Charles Williams


Of the inklings, Charles Williams is often the one least known, least recognized. His works are thorny and require an even greater-than-usual susepension of disbelief. Sometimes his narratives amount to nothing more than very thinly veiled symbolic actions. And yet, there are moments in the prose and in the stories that are truly transcendant and more than make up for the various flaws one could find. I offer one of those moments in the excerpt below.

from All Hallow's Eve
Charles Williams

He felt, as he gazed, more like a wraith than a man; against her vigour of existence he hung like a ghost, and was fixed by it.—He did not then remember the past hour in Jonathan's room, nor the tomb-like image of Lady Wallingford. Had he done so, he would have felt Lester's to be as much stronger than that woman's as hers had seemed stronger than his own. Lester was not smiling any recognition; the recognition was in her stillness. The passionate mouth was serious and the eyes deep with wonder and knowledge: of him? certainly of him. He thought almost he saw her suspire with a relief beyond joy. Never, never again would he neglect. The broken oaths renewed themselves in him. One hand of hers was raised and still almost as if it rested on some other arm, but the other had flown to her breast where it lay as if in some way it held him there. They made, for those few seconds, no movement, but their stillness was natural and not strange; it was not because she was a ghost but because she was she that he could not stir. This was their thousandth meeting, but yet more their first, a new first and yet the only first. More stable than rock, more transient in herself than rivers, more distant-bright than stars, more comfortable than happy sleep, more pleasant than wind, more dangerous than fire-all known things similes of her; and beyond all known things the unknown power of her. He could perhaps in a little have spoken; but before he could, she had passed. She left with him precisely the sensation of seeing her go on; past him? no; up the by-way? no; but it was not disappearance or vanishing, for she had gone, as a hundred times she had, on her proper occasions, gone, kissing, laughing, waving. Now she neither kissed nor laughed nor waved, but that which was in all three lingered with him as he saw she was no longer there.

Such a paean to married loved, such an epithalamion is truly worthy of some of our attention, because it strikes me that the man knows whereof he speaks.

If you'd like to experience more of All Hallow's Eve, you can find it online here

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on June 29, 2004 5:33 AM.

Prayer Requests--29 June 2004-Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul was the previous entry in this blog.

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