Read The Place of the Lion by Charles Williams Free Online
Book Title: The Place of the Lion|
The author of the book: Charles Williams
Edition: Regent College Publishing
The size of the: 31.32 MB
City - Country: No data
Date of issue: February 14th 2003
ISBN 13: 9781573831086
Format files: PDF
Loaded: 2729 times
Reader ratings: 6.3
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As an author, Charles Williams writes stiffly, his stories are strange enough to be nearly inaccessible, and his characters who find clarity start speaking in a way which makes The Fairie Queene look folksy. All that being true, I love this man. After finishing this one I slept not just better, but more happily (merrily, even?) then in months. Goodness became more solidly true than usual. A few days later I was taking a shower and suddenly thought of the Idea of the Lion and Plato's Butterfly and houses in otherworldly flames - well, I started laughing at myself and the book, but not out of condescension. How does a man who writes about things which appear pretty crazy from nearly any perspective make them so rational, so fair? Charles Williams has Plato's ideas crash into our world and it's a rather ordinary thing. In another book the Holy Grail is found, and when the good guys aren't getting into dizzy car chases or bumping into cherubim, they're just hanging out being light-hearted and finding everything a good joke. Or the dead walk into a kitchen and chat with the living because it's the thing to do, or a man shacks up with a succubus, or someone promises to bear the burden of a doppleganger which is terrorizing a friend.
Now, we can encounter those things in a comic-book story, or video game, or one of the many pseudo-sci-fi/fantasy films which mixes an ancient name and time travel (or some variation thereof) into a senseless mess but is fun to look at and kinda rad. But while we abandon the straight, unadorned narratives and tales of good and bad for escapism, we are not supposed to take the shadows behind the stories seriously. Myth must be a synonym for False. All the peoples of the world which did not take a flat, neatly divided and accounted for view of reality were obviously ignorant. They were leading up to us, the people who would condemn their naivety and steal their stories as fodder for the entertainment-consumption industry, while failing to understand the people or their stories on their own terms. The better ones regret the domination, but do not hesitate to ignore, mock, or capitalize on their beliefs.
This isn't an acceptable way to approach any people or their stories, and it not an acceptable way to approach Williams. This story in particular illustrates why this is such a terrible thing to do (I'm being generous picking only one negative adjective). Williams is not intending to entertain you or allow bad ideas to go unexamined. This is not the place for cheap fantasy or a cape of a different color. He wants and intends to make you take all of this magical realism as being, yes, supernatural, but also yes, very very real.
That may seem ridiculous, but while I can laugh and say "Oh, of course it is!", I also find Charles Williams' ideas and vision moving enough that I cannot reject his philosophy/religion. I have to take his worldview seriously because it produces an utterly convincing image of goodness which far surpasses most others I've encountered. We can say we should all love one another and do good, but we seem to be best at not living up to that whatsoever. If we could see the way to do so as clearly as Charles Williams the person did, if our eyes were changed, I suspect we'd find a goodness wildly colorful that achieved far more than our platitudes and good intentions. The supernatural happenings in the stories seem integral to finding that goodness. And perhaps the reason his prose is so heavy and his stories so old and odd is because he has something very good to say which English can't quite contain. The tongue and pen can't say some things without upside-downing the world and living a bit in one age and then another and then outside of time.
I think his works are weirder and more original than pretty much anything else in the past thirty years. Stranger than Murakami (whom I love), more intriguing and provocative than the mind-benders which are yesterday's news in a moment, and there is always the joy of something old and lost like the Grail or Plato being reawakened. The great medieval masters went back again and again to the old stories, not because they could not make their own, but because they wanted to rework the great ones, to make them more true, to reveal something hitherto unseen. Williams is like that. Here are old legends and visions mixed up in our world, and the result gives a better understanding of people and life and death than any rootless fantasy ever could. Unfashionable and clumsy it may be, but here is a book that is both a story and a way to goodness.
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Read information about the authorCharles Walter Stansby Williams is probably best known, to those who have heard of him, as a leading member (albeit for a short time) of the Oxford literary group, the "Inklings", whose chief figures were C.S. Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien. He was, however, a figure of enormous interest in his own right: a prolific author of plays, fantasy novels (strikingly different in kind from those of his friends), poetry, theology, biography and criticism.
— the Charles Williams Society website
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