Guest Post 7 on “The Place of the Lion” by Brenton Dickieson

The Place of the LionThis is the seventh in a series of guest posts written by readers about The Place of the Lion, one of CW’s great novels. Today’s post is by Brenton Dickieson

Brenton Dickieson is a freelance writer and university lecturer in Prince Edward Island, Canada. He writes a popular blog on C.S. Lewis, fiction, and theology called A Pilgrim in Narnia, Brentonand his writing has appeared in Geez, The Utne Reader, and numerous family and church magazines and academic journals. Brenton’s wife, Kerry, is also an educator, and they enjoy life with their incurably curious son, Nicolas, who has his own twitter account (@TheNicolasTweet). You can follow Brenton @BrentonDana. 

The Place of the Lion in C.S. Lewis’ Fiction

I came to Charles Williams’ The Place of the Lion because of my work in C.S. Lewis. I know that Williams had a great influence upon Lewis, and I am determined to find out how deep that influence really is. Moreover, Lewis discovers the Lion at a key point in his life: his academic career is building with the release of The Allegory of Love (1936) and his continual work on The Personal Heresy (1939) . It is at this point, though, that Lewis takes an abrupt shift in direction. He writes a SciFi thriller, Out of the Silent Planet (1938) and begins working on his first books defending Christianity to the general public. Instead of a career as a public academic and controversialist, Lewis becomes a storyteller and faith-sharer.

You have to ask: What caused that great shift?

Plus… well, it is kind of obvious: the image of the Lion ends up being pretty important to Lewis later in life. Most readers of Lewis meet Aslan first. So is Aslan conceived (or pre-conceived) during Lewis’ first reading of The Place of the Lion?

This is why I have picked up this Charles Williams thriller. Plus, I’m always game for a good book, and I’ve heard this is one of Williams’ best.

To the book.

Wow. Well, frankly, The Place of the Lion is one of the most disorienting things I have ever read. I would put it in league with studying Jean Baudrillard, negotiating the price of a Tuk Tuk in Bangkok, or visiting the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship. I finished reading late last night, and I am still reeling.

Now, it isn’t the story that is difficult. C.S. Lewis summarizes it succinctly in a Feb 26th, 1936 letter to his good friend, Arthur Greeves:

I have just read what I think a really great book, ‘The Place of the Lion’ by Charles Williams. It is based on the Platonic theory of the other world in which the archtypes of all earthly qualities exist: and in the novel, owing to a bit of machinery which doesn’t matter, these archtypes start sucking our world back. The lion of strength appears in the world & the strength starts going out of houses and things into him. The archtypal butterfly (enormous) appears and all the butterflies of the world fly back into him. But man contains and ought to be able to rule all these forces: and there is one man in the book who does, and the story ends with him as a second Adam ‘naming the beasts’ and establishing dominion over them.

Not only is the storyline fairly simple, but the characters are strong and knowable. Two friends—Anthony and Quentin—are deeply invested in a relationship of intellectual engagement and loving debate. When those ideas appear in real life not as ideas (ideal, Platonic forms and Jungian archetypes), each man responds differently. Quentin is fearful, desperate to hide from evil; if faced with the last great breath of humanity, Anthony is determined to stand against the ideal forms of strength, subtlety, beauty and the like. Their approach to crisis defines their roles in the story: Quentin flees from the forms; Anthony is drawn into them, and the form of the Eagle works through him as yeast through dough.

And there is Damaris, Anthony’s “girl.” Damaris is fiercely independent, working on her PhD dissertation. She shares the secret of the novel with the reader, discovering that the Greek idea of eidolon is brought into medieval concepts of angels. Although she knows the key to the localized Platonic apocalypse that has caused chaos in her little town, she has never integrated her academic knowledge with her own worldview. She thinks she (like Anthony and Quentin at the beginning of the book) can play with ideas without any consequence. When C.S. Lewis writes a fated fan letter to Williams, he captures Damaris in an intriguing way:

I know Damaris very well: in fact I was in course of becoming Damaris (but you have pulled me up). That pterodactyl…I know all about him: and wanting not Peace, but (faugh!) ‘peace for my work’.

I know Damaris well too.

So, if I can understand the story and the characters, what then was disorienting about The Place of the Lion?

The structure of the book is secure, resting on a simple plotline and character development. But the writing is a torrent, a whirlwind of dreams and images. Williams is thoroughly invested in the classical and medieval world, so his writing is laced with deeper images, layered with symbolic significance that I know I am missing as the sentences fly by. It isn’t that I read quickly—I read very slowly, often rereading a page before moving on. But it is like the imagistic elements in the book tumble over each other to come into my view. Then, the column of archetypes collapses and rebuilds again, showing the shadow of past ideas, or the echo of significant shifts in narrative, or even a mirror image of itself.

The Place of the Lion is startling to read.

I think Williams could have done more to orient the reader. In his minimalistic show-not-tell approach to the literal geography of the tale his detail is scant, and I don’t have a sense of the context before the context begins to shift. So economic is Williams’ introduction that, although I immediately understood Damaris, I don’t really even know the two friends until the second last chapter. I also had to create a mental character map to keep track of the supporting characters and to remember what they represented—for they each represent something. There is no wasted word in the Lion.

Truly, though, I think I still would have been unsettled by the book. It is a supernatural thriller, but I don’t know the operating rules of the supernatural world it is based upon—the “bit of machinery” as Lewis calls it. But neither does our hero: Anthony never knows if he has chosen well until he has chosen his path. In this matter, the Lion is less like fantasy and more like everyday life.

Did the reading help me in my original goal, to understand Lewis? Certainly the book was important to him. He began a friendship with Williams, and passed the book around among his friends, writing: Coghill of Exeter put me on to the book: I have put on Tolkien (the Professor of Anglo Saxon and a papist) and my brother. So there are three dons and one soldier all buzzing with excited admiration.”

When Lewis’ friend, Cecil Harwood, takes the book and does not return it, Lewis is forced to ask for its return through a limerick:

There was a young person of Streatham
Who said to his friends when he met ’em
Old Lewis is dyin’
For
The Place of the Lion
But I keep people’s books once I get ’em.

Moreover, Lewis recommends it to others in his letter, hoping they too will be drawn into the story. For him, it was more than a story. He wrote to Williams:

A book sometimes crosses ones path which is so like the sound of ones native language in a strange country that it feels almost uncivil not to wave some kind of flag in answer. I have just read your Place of the Lion and it is to me one of the major literary events of my life–comparable to my first discovery of George Macdonald, G. K. Chesterton, or Wm. Morris. There are layers and layers–first the pleasure that any good fantasy gives me: then, what is rarely (tho’ not so very rarely) combined with this, the pleasure of a real philosophical and theological stimulus: thirdly, characters: fourthly, what I neither expected nor desired, substantial edification.

Elsewhere he refers to it as Lenten preparation. The Place of the Lion had a profound effect on his spiritual life.

But, is the Lion our pre-Narnian Aslan? No, I don’t think so. In Williams’ thriller, the Lion and the Lamb are opposites that come together in the recreation of Eden. In that sense, Aslan is both Lion and Lamb, strength and laughter, power and weakness. I suspect, though, that Aslan does not come directly or indirectly from Williams, but emerges out of the depth of Lewis’ worldview when he finally sits down to write The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe a dozen years later.

Certainly I can see the influence of The Place of the Lion in the last book of the Ransom Cycle, That Hideous Strength (1945). And I suspect that when I read Williams’ Descent into Hell (1937), I will understand Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters (1941-42) and The Great Divorce (1944-45) much better. We’ll see.

But I think the biggest impact of The Place of the Lion upon Lewis, beyond the personal edification, is that it opens up the possibilities for Lewis of what a story can do. Lewis credits David Lindsay’s Voyage to Arcturis for creating new genre possibilities for him: it was Lindsay who first gave me the idea that the ‘scientifiction’ appeal could be combined with the ‘supernatural’ appeal” (Oct 29, 1944 letter to Charles A. Brady).

I have been reading Lewis chronologically and have rested here in 1936-37 for some time, trying to see what gave birth to Out of the Silent Planet. I am prepared to suggest that as much as Charles Williams had an influence on Lewis’ theology, and though we will see lines of continuity between some of Lewis’ and Williams’ books, The Place of the Lion opened up for Lewis the power of a supernatural thriller that can draw out the problems of life and address them as well. As he says to Williams of the Lion in 1936: Not only is your diagnosis good: but the very way in which you force one to look at the matter is itself the beginning of a cure. Honestly, I didn’t think there was anyone now alive in England who could do it.”

It is Williams, I think, who suggests to Lewis that his creativity could be the “beginning of a cure” for some.

It is a bold claim, I know. We cannot know all of Lewis’ inner machinery, but I would argue that, in this sense, The Place of the Lion is the beginning of Lewis’ career as a novelist.

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About Sørina Higgins

Sørina Higgins is a writer, English teacher, and Inklings scholar. Sørina serves as Chair of the Department of Language and Literature at Signum University and teaches English at King's College and Lehigh Carbon Community College. She has published two books of poetry, "The Significance of Swans" and "Caduceus."
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28 Responses to Guest Post 7 on “The Place of the Lion” by Brenton Dickieson

  1. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    Would it be an exaggeration to call this a board groaning with food for thought? Perhaps a searching visit to Brenton Dickieson’s blog would answer many points before I might raise them in public, but I will opt to mix laziness and excitement and blurt them out here, immediately.

    Where I read, “Instead of a career as a public academic and controversialist, Lewis becomes a storyteller and faith-sharer”, I would be more likely to say, “While remaining a public academic and controversialist, Lewis changed as a storyteller and faith-sharer.” Lewis first published as a poet, and continued, with Dymer, as a storytelling poet, though without “any Christian beliefs”, then (1926), and pseudonymously. His next book was as both a faith-sharer and controversialist in prose fiction of a distinct sort, The Pilgrim’s Regress (1933), though he later said, “in those days I never dreamed I would become a ‘popular’ author and hoped for no readers outside a small ‘highbrow’ circle.”

    With the foundation of the Socratic Club he became a public controversialist as never before, at a time when his Preface to Paradise Lost was a work of academic controversy, among other things. All of which enriches the context without challenging the thesis of an abrupt shift in direction with respect to storytelling.

    When Lewis told Williams, “Honestly, I didn’t think there was anyone now alive in England who could do it”, what might lie behind that, “now alive”? Interestingly, Lewis follows the comment to Charles Brady quoted here, about Lindsay, with, “R.H. Benson is wrong: at least the Dawn of All (the only one I can remember having read) never meant much to me.” I have heard Gwen Watkins say she was convinced Lewis read and drew on Benson more than he was aware, but do not remember her evidence: I hope she has published it, somewhere. But if he could so write in 1944, he was probably not thinking of Benson, consciously, in 1936 as someone “who could do it”, were he still alive. A teasing question, which is not to say, the most important one, is, just how radically was The Place of the Lion the right book at the right time, where Lewis’s further fiction was concerned?

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    • Well, you certainly should head over to my blog!
      This was a funny and intelligent response.
      I hadn’t thought through about the Socratic club, but as you bring it up I still think he shifted from the 1930s. He writes to Joan Bennet in 1936, “C.S.L. as professional controversialist and itinerant prize-fighter is, I suspect, becoming already rather a bore to our small public….” It is a self-poke, but it captures a weariness I think he had in the late 1930s with the Tillyard “Personal Heresy.” CSL fans say he won hands down. Perhaps. Reading the book, that isn’t as clear to me. I wonder if he tired of it. Indeed, he shifted his profile after WWII again (although part of that withdrawal from the public eye was his overwhelming workload.
      But I think the Socratic club was a different thing. It isn’t that The Problem of Pain and Screwtape and Oxford debates weren’t controversial–almost everything he did was tinged with the unexpected, like his Milton thesis. It’s that he is shifting to the goal of evangelism, to be a public voice for Christianity. Except for Pilgrim’s Regress, with limited and local leadership, he was not really that voice. But something changed in the late 30s, and that’s the change I’m trying to nail down.
      I think you are right to rebuke me on the storyteller bit. He didn’t suddenly become a storyteller! But, again, Out of the Silent Planet is a surprising shift. You are right that it is in continuity with Dymer (and the Drum poem). The question you end with is the one I’m trying to pluck out.
      I’ll have to track Benson down. Do not know him at all.

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      • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

        Thank you for such a substantial response! I did not mean to rebuke you, exactly, “on the storyteller bit”, since I thought your way of saying it may have been reflecting brevity more than anything else. But A.N. Wilson in his Lewis biography took an observation Humphrey Carpenter made in his Inklings book and ran with it, unconvincingly, but I fear, influentially, with the danger that your words might be mistakenly read as ‘supporting evidence’.

        Williams refers to Benson’s The Necromancers (1909) in his Arthurian Commonplace Book from the ‘teens of century, and has more to say about him, as well as about Evelyn Underhill’s own supernatural novels with contemporary settings, in his 1943 edition of her letters. Benson’s Light Invisible (written in 1902) and Mirror of Shalott (1907) might be especially good ones to try, too. Burnes Oates & Washbourne were reprinting his fiction in a ‘Popular Uniform Edition’ at least as late as the late 1920s. Williams also read Arthur Machen, though I cannot recall a reference to him by Lewis.

        I look forward to getting acquainted with your blog, and following the progress of your work on Lewis’s “shifting to the goal of evangelism” and changes in storytelling!

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  2. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    If I may take up something else plucked from your post, I share your suspicion that “the Lion [is not] our pre-Narnian Aslan”. But there are, I think, a couple Narnian and Perelandran features that invite comparison – and contrast – and might even come “indirectly from Williams”, or represent a kind of conscious if implicit conversation.

    The Narnian ones have to do with appearance and perception. Aslan is tangible and solid, but at the edge of the world in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader appears as a Lamb, “so white” at first sight “that even with their eagles’ eyes they could hardly look at it.” And when he grows back into “Aslan himself”, he tells them he is also in their world, “But there I have another name.” In The Last Battle, he is misrepresented into a sort of bogey-lion, and then into Tashlan. But, if Williams’s pterodactyl may be in fact his Eagle improperly experienced, Tash has a real, distinct creaturely existence.

    In Perelandra, Weston become Unman bears comparison with Williams’s Foster. And I wonder if Ransom does not correspond in some ways to Anthony. Of course, both Damaris and Anthony are fallen humans. But, if in a sort of recapitulation of the Fall, Damaris, Eve-like, falls first, Anthony is like an Adam who does not join her, but ‘holds out’, aspiring to help her. And while the Lady is not fallen, and the fallen Ransom not her intended ‘Adam’, he does, like Anthony, respond to the call to help her and the world of Perelandra, at whatever peril to himself.

    What do you think? Too far-fetched? (Would you answer with judicious courtesy as Lewis did to some correspondents, ‘There may be something in what you say’?)

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    • Hmmm. Well, I think Aslan is lion+lamb, as I said above. Brevity kept me from giving examples from Narnia, but you captured some (my post is already double assigned length!).
      I’m not sure about The Last Battle. I love the line of questioning, and there are these many manifestations of Aslan in that chronicle. You captured them: the hint of Christ on earth, the donkey Aslan, the rumours, the Tashlan, and Tash-in-experience–the devotion to Tash as devotion to Aslan, I mean. What I find intriguing is that although Aslan is experienced in a perspectival way (he gets bigger as Lucy grows, or see Horse and his Boy for the growth of Aslan in the experience of the pilgrim), but he meets Emeth as Aslan, not as Tash. There is rooted reality (Aslan), but also an accommodation to the one experiencing Aslan. This moves away from your comment (I’ve left Williams here), but I didn’t want to ignore a thread you pulled out.
      I’ll read Perelandra again in the next month or so, but I am skeptical to draw the parallels too closely. My weakness here is Williams. Weston is such a solid character in my mind with such a specific worldview (or two, it switches in P), that I think it blows Foster away.
      However, look at the parallels:
      -both Perelandra and Place of the Lion are recreation narratives
      -both are concerned with Unmen: in Perelandra it is demonic, ideological; in Lion, the symbolic quality is taken up, and men become beasts (think book of Daniel, the Revelation)
      -I would not push Ransom & Anthony too far, but both become 2nd Adams, Ransom as a Christ figure, fulfilling Gen 3:16; Anthony as the re-namer, as the Adam who draws the beasts of the Isaianic paradise together

      You’ve really pushed me to consider the parallels more seriously.

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      • Sørina Higgins says:

        Sounds like a potential full blog post for “Pilgrim in Narnia,” B!

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      • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

        Thank you for all the thoughtful, detailed reflection!

        The sense of that “rooted reality” strikes me as a big difference between Aslan and the “Angelicals”, whatever the vividness and continuity of the latter.

        I am not sure how close the Perelandra-Place parallels are, but in reading your post on the heels of re-reading the Place of the Lion, they struck me suddenly as possibilities to ponder further.

        The ‘un-manning’ of Foster and Weston, as you suggest, have such dramatic similarities and differences, which also have to do with the personality of the demonic in Lewis and the oddity of the Angelical (Lion, in this case), in Williams. I need to reread and compare in more detail, but one similarity seems to be the horror and pity of what happens to the culpable personalities of Foster and Weston (again, more developed in Weston’s case).

        Anthony has a lot easier time, in this context, as a sort of Psalm 91-Christ figure, than Ransom has in tackling demoniac Weston. I have not thought about the “little child” Isaiah imagery enough.

        Writing this, I get thinking I’d like to have a closer look at similarities and differences between Place, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength, with respect to Anthony, Ransom, and Merlin, vs. Berringer circle, Weston, and ‘Macrobial’ Head and NICE respectively, not neglecting the places of Angelicals, Intelligences, and animals (!)

        Thanks again for the good discussion!

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  3. Pingback: The Place of the Lion in C.S. Lewis’ Fiction | A Pilgrim in Narnia

  4. A great review, Brenton, & one which gets the best response which is that I must re-read The Place of the Lion. I read it a few months ago and, as you did, found it disorienting. Is this because CW has a way of making the world less “safe” than we thought it was? It’s as if we are going for a walk with him & suddenly the earth opens up before us and we fall into a bog. We think that this must be an accident but part of us suspects that he may have tipped us into this hole! Writers and film makers in the horror genre also have a way of doing this, but whereas CW clearly understands evil, and much better than I do, where he differs quite wonderfully from them is that whereas in the horror genre “goodness” is presented as a bit like waking up after a bad dream, a kind of return to normality, for CW “goodness” is the strangest idea of them all! If Anthony’s journey is one towards “real” goodness rather than an image of it then I am a long way off.

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    • Great response, Stephen. Is it goodness, though? I’m not sure. There are aspects of Anthony: centredness, confident, careless of the self, curious… I have to reread to think of more. But I don’t know that CW pits goodness versus evilness. It is a thriller, but I don’t know we have evil, exactly. Maybe Foster and the animal-men. But, in any case, the opposite isn’t goodness.
      You’ve reframed the question for me, and I have to go back and read again. Despite the fact that with have lion-lamb animal dialectics, I don’t know that good-evil is also like that. And then there is power.

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  5. Well, I know what I’m reading next!

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  6. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    On the general matter of storytelling and shifts, Arend Smilde discusses a ‘shift to fiction’ as one of the “key analytical ideas” of McGrath’s Lewis biography in his Journal of Inkling Studies review linked from his “Critical Notes on McGrath’s biography of C. S. Lewis” posted on 15 October with corrections made on 23 October, at his website, Lewisiana.nl

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  7. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    In the first section of his critical notes, Arend Smilde writes, in reference to p. 233 and “The shift to fiction”, “The idea of such a shift appears to be a biographical construct rather than something emerging from the relevant evidence. If a shift of the sort ever took place in Lewis, it was a shift to apologetics in 1939. Every step he took in that direction, or on that path, was made at the invitation of someone else: Ashley Sampson (PoP), James Welch (radio talks), Stella Aldwinckle (Socratic Club), W.R. Matthews (RAF lectures), Dorothy Sayers (Miracles). Left to himself, Lewis was ever quick to plump for ‘fiction’, i.e. imaginative work or poetry.”

    In the second, under “Important persons inadequately discussed or completely ignored”, he includes “Charles Williams (CSL’s chief living inspiration during his most productive years)”.

    Bold matter for the details of a couple of (not unrelated) discussions!

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    • David, thanks for the tip. I have read Arend’s review, but have been avoiding McGrath because of this–I want to figure out what I think are the most powerful moments in Lewis in this 1937-40 period, and then see if the biographers agree. I don’t know if it is Arend’s idea or McGrath’s that the shift–even as an heuristic question–is an apologetic one. That’s sort of what I’m getting at here, but I don’t think that we should see apologetics and creative literature in tension. The fiction is a voice for faith expression, but the faith expression is also a pathway for artistic work. It’s always artificial to break into that kind of circle, but it is worth a look–especially when people continue to say things like Lewis’ “allegory,” or when the books are theological fictions in an overt way.

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      • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

        Figuring out before comparing seems a sensible approach! (I have not read McGrath’s book, yet, either.)

        Your attention to Lewis’s ” shifting to the goal of evangelism, to be a public voice for Christianity” (as you expressed it in an earlier comment) and how that fits into his writing life (or those aspects of his life fit together) seems a good thing to be doing, and I look forward to following its course.

        Relevant to this (I suppose) is Lewis’s discussion of kinds and forms in the first chapter of A Preface to Paradise Lost (1942), a published version of lectures given just beyond the “1937-40 period” you mention, but looking back to attending Williams’s series of lectures beginning on 29 January 1940 “in which” – he says in his “Dedication: To Charles Williams” – “you partly anticipated, partly confirmed, and most of all clarified and matured, what I had long been thinking”.

        Just how do what fictional forms bring glad tidings of good things, as Lewis matures and works on?

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  8. I was impressed by your suggestion that Williams helped Lewis to find his own creativity, and that that was the ‘beginning of a cure’ for him too. I’ve been wondering lately whether Williams’s own creativity, in the case of ‘The Place of the Lion’, was sparked off by another speculative writer who had a great vogue at the time.

    “Looking from the windows of a country house, saw the head and shoulders of a lion moving through a cornfield. It was known in the neighbourhood that this lion had escaped from a menagerie, and that it had killed a goat. Wondered if I could hit it from the window with my revolver, but decided that the range was too great. Decided to lie up alongside the track in the cornfield, and to wait till the beast repassed. Felt, however, that I should prefer to be armed with something better than a revolver. Went out to try to get a rifle…”

    This is J.W. Dunne, recounting a dream in ‘An Experiment With Time’ (1927). Hard to imagine Williams failing to read such a popular and fascinating metaphysical book; and we know his friend ‘Henry’ Lee later wrote a long article on the book in a Co-Masonic journal. Though of course the connection probably can’t ever be proved.

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    • Sørina Higgins says:

      Thanks for these comments, David and Grevel! Will you mention this possible connection (as speculation) in your bio, Grevel?

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    • Grevel, thank you for the response. Given that quotations, it isn’t difficult to see the links. I love to see these threads of influence–I’m working more on Lewis, who actually talks and writes about his influences. We can keep tugging these threads until the whole garment unravels, I suppose. After all, if these writers are anything like myself, I know only half of what has deeply moved me. Moreover, some things are influences before I ever read them or even encountered the ideas.

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      • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

        Grevel, fascinating! I am reminded of Verlyn Flieger’s paper, “Time and Dream in The Lost Road and The Lord of the Rings” read at the 1992 International Tolkien Symposium in Aachen for his birth centenary, and published in the Inklings-Jahrbüch, vol, 10 (1992), pp. 111-27. She says (p. 114) Tolkien “found what he wanted” for working with dream in his time-travel novel in Dunne’s book: “Unfinished though they are, the outline and the surviving fragments for The Lost World show the unmistakeable influence of An Experiment with Time” (p. 115). She goes on to argue (p. 120) “the in The Lost Road the dream was the whole narrative, while in The Lord of the Rings it is only the heart of the narrative.”

        A further (possible) convergence and interlacing to explore in the wendings of three Inklings mythopoesis! (I see the second edition of Dunne is scanned at the Internet Archive.)

        Brenton, with respect to (possible) influences, my mind turns to Williams’s example of the “image of a wood”, notably, as Anne Ridler writes in her Image of the City “Introduction” (p. lii), “on p. 68 of Reason and Beauty [1933]” and more fully “on p. 107 of The Figure of Beatrice [1943]”. This seems not necessarily a matter of (conscious) influence or reference, nor one of simple ‘comparative literature’, nor again anything like an endorsement of Jungian theory. But Williams finds that it allows “various ‘parts of the wood’ to point distantly towards each other, without the danger of too hasty comparisons.”

        (I might add that Anne Ridler found Helen M. Luke’s little book Through Defeat to Joy: The Novels of Charles Williams in the light of Jungian thought (c. 1983) interesting and rewarding, without simply endorsing its Jungianism.)

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  9. Ian Russell Lowell says:

    Thank you, Grevel, for the link with Dunne. So many writers were influenced by his writings on time, from T. H. White in his comic “Earth Stopped: Or Mr Marx’s Sporting Tour”, to H. G. Wells ‘psycho-history’ “The Shape of Things to Come”, as well as the general interest in time as shown by J. B. Priestley’s ‘Time Plays’ — plus, of course, Lewis’ ‘The Dark Tower’ and Tolkien’s ‘Notion Club Papers’ (with some criticism of Lewis’ ideas!).
    I was wondering whether Williams would have have read him, basically because if his wide-ranging literary (if not so much scientific) interest and influence.
    I had also forgotten the appearance of Aslan as the ‘Lamb’ at the end of the world.
    There seems to be a significance in the nineteen-thirties of intersecting interests with time (chronos and kairos) and with Arthurian legend (Williams, Tolkien, T. H. White, David Jones, Lewis), set in a moral and spiritual compass. It is obviously because of the legacy of the ‘Great War’, but there was also the vulnerability of humanity in the Great Influenza Epidemic, the rise of Communism, Fascism, Nazism and the Falange in Spain, plus the economic hardships of the Wall Street Crash. ‘Epic’ times seeking an epic figure, Arthur as (flawed) Saviour, in much the same way David is the (flawed) Saviour of the Deuteronomic History?

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    • Sørina Higgins says:

      Aha! That whole thing you said about time and Arthur — that’s what I want you to submit as a paper proposal to “The Inklings and King Arthur” volume, Ian!

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  10. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    Lewis’s letter to ‘Lucy’ of 11 September 1958 about The Lord of the Rings is interesting, here: “it is so like the real history of the world: ‘Then, as now, there was a growing darkness and great deeds were done that were not wholly in vain [with “wholly” underlined].’ Neither optimism (this is the last war and after it all will be lovely forever) nor pessimism (this is the last war and all civilization will end), you notice. No. The darkness comes again and again and is never wholly triumphant nor wholly defeated.” I think this is characteristic of Masefield’s Arthurian retelling in verse from early in the same period, too.

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  11. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    Has anyone looked into a possible connection between Aslan, Tash, and Arslan Tash (the modern name of the site of the ancient city of Hadatu) and the Assyrian sculptures and reliefs found there (enjoying western scholarly attention since 1836) and the (somewhat controversial) amulets associated with that place since 1933? The smaller amulet has a winged lion with human head and a she-wolf with scorpion tail on one side, and H. Torczyner, in “A Hebrew Incantation Against Night Demons from Biblical Times”, JNES, vol. 6, No. 1 (Jan. 1947), says of the former “called in Hebrew Ariel or Cherub”.

    The glossing of the Biblical name ‘Ariel’ as ‘lion of God’ would have been readily accessible to Williams and Lewis.

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  12. Lino says:

    Hello there! This is my 1st comment here so
    I just wanted to give a quick shout out and say I truly enjoy reading your posts.
    Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that cover the same topics?
    Thank you!

    Like

  13. Shantell says:

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  14. Steve says:

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  15. Pingback: The Place of the Lion in C.S. Lewis’ Fiction | A Pilgrim in Narnia

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