Charles Williams was drunk-texting on Christmas

Apparently, if you believe @Oddest_Inkling, Charles Williams and C. S. Lewis went on a road trip on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. In case you missed it, here’s what CW tweeted out (plus a few interjections from his followers).

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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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13 Responses to Charles Williams was drunk-texting on Christmas

  1. rebeccadfox says:

    And this is why this blog is one of my favorite things. Brilliant.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, that’s just bloody brilliant…!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. pennkenobi says:

    Love these!

    Tweet: “Argument: Are the Arthurian legends primarily optimistic (Lewis’s position) or pessimistic (Tolkien’s)? What do you say?”

    The Arthurian legends inherit the Prophets more than the Tragedies. But now I’m wondering, was their ever the notion of ‘promised restoration’ in the ancient tragedies? I don’t think so. I know in Eden the promise “her seed will bruise your head” marked the beginning of an optimistic tradition that was taken up in the Prophets. It really takes off beginning with Samuel, the idea of an “anointed one” who will always rise to bring justice order and peace. Then once you get to Daniel, now it transcends optimism! “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever.” Because the grail is forever, and Christ is the King of kings, it is impossible to call the Arthurian legends pessimistic. The question then is are the Arthurian legends ‘Christian’? Well, the grail tradition certainly is.

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    • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

      Eric Voegelin is very interesting about the Tragedies in The World of the Polis (Order and History, vol. 2), about the Prometheus of Aeschylus in Science, Politics and Gnosticism, and in general about what can be achieved in the mutable world (and in various places about St. Augustine’s analysis in The City of God) – and the dangers (and, historically, horrors) of activist attempts to ‘immanentize the eschaton’. I can’t remember ever encountering him attending to the Arthurian and the Grail, though, or, for that matter, Virgil.

      (Somewhere or other Williams writes interestingly about the impossibility of ‘tragedy’ from a Christian perspective. We probably ought to make the (post-)Leibnitzian ‘optimistic’ and ‘pessimistic’ a topic of discussion as well…)

      What of Virgil (of whom Williams makes very interesting use in ‘Mount Badon’, for instance – which I can come back and legally quote in full – I think – in less than 24 hours)? How, for instance, does the Fourth Eclogue fit into the world of the Tragedies? – or relate to the Aeneid? (I ought to make another attempt to read Broch’s Death of Virgil…)

      Tony Fuller was mentioning the novels of Robert Hugh Benson in the comments to the recent post on a review of the Grevel Lindop bio. Benson has strikingly produced a pair of alternative future histories in Lord of the World (1907) and The Dawn of All (1911). Lewis knew the second (but recalled not being very impressed). We don’t know if Williams knew either (in addition to the Benson novel The Necromancers, which receives positive mention in the Arthurian Commonplace Book). I suspect some debt of Pope Deodatus in the late Arthurian poetry to Pope Sylvester in Lord of the World. In any case, it might be interesting to compare the novels’ alternate futures with Williams’s innovatively imagined Parousiac context for the Grail in his late poetry.

      In Williams, the possible achievement of the Grail in one way, is linked with something like the best of all possible societies being fulfilled by the Grail as preparation for the Second Coming of Christ – I’m not sure if we can say, how soon after, though my impression is, ‘very soon’. In Benson, I’m not sure how long the achieved society at the end of The Dawn of All is meant to go on (is it a preparation for a soon-to-follow Second Coming? – I’d need to read and brood: I don’t know it well enough). In Williams’s late poetry, this preparation for the Parousia is subverted, but the Grail is ‘achieved’ in a different, personal way, by the ‘advent of Galahad’ through (and despite!) his conception by adultery and fornication, and a Grail Mass or two involving two other knights in addition to Galahad. And – a big ‘and’ – there is also elaborated a ‘following of the way of Galahad’ possible for other characters in the story, contemporary with him, and, presumably, in the present and future of the end of the retelling – and (presumably) for Williams’s contemporaries and the reader, as well. (There may be a lot of creepy stuff in this elaboration, too – though, again, probably not only creepy stuff.)

      In the dialogic tweets, Avalon in Venus is mentioned. I’m just paused in the midst of re-enjoying the last chapter of Perelandra, and commend it as very interesting in this context. I can’t remember how, if at all, the Grail gets mentioned in the Arthurian aspects of That Hideous Strength (which, however, presumably presupposes the last chapter of Perelandra). There may be an interesting implicit discussion going on between Lewis writing Perelandra and THS after having read Taliessin through Logres (and ‘Divites Dimisit’?), and Williams continuing to work on the next batch of Arthurian poems!

      Another Biblical dimension possibly in the background struck me while writing this monstrously long comment… Lewis notes to Peter Milward the importance of the treatment of manna in the Book of Wisdom to the Grail. Might Williams in part be drawing on the idea of manna as a preparation to a proper establishment of Israel in the Promised Land, subverted as far as the ‘adult wilderness generation’ goes, as a model for the alternate futures of his late retelling?

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  4. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    MacPhee awaking in the rumble seat in the chill of dawn, “Wheesht!”

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  5. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    Another approach to the Arthurian matter are imaginations of how a historical Arthur (et suis), despite failure, might, by the successes preceding his death, have ‘achieved’ a better future with less warfare among and between Britons, Anglo-Saxons, and Gaels, and the conversion of the pagan English. Two works I have just enjoyed reading make different uses of this: John James’s last novel, The Fourth Gwenevere (posthumously prepared for publication by John and Caitlín Matthews), and Christopher Fry’s 1948 Canterbury Festival Play, Thor, With Angels. (I suspect John Matthews’ Song of Taliesin, upon which I am now embarked, is doing this in its own way, too.)

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    • pennkenobi says:

      Indeed. Some time ago I was reading through key sections of Gregory of Tours History of the Franks and I was struck by his pastoral attitude of “discipling brutes.” Gregory patiently but firmly stood up to the bestial nature of the newly Christianized Franks. He himself even displayed some traits and ideas that it would be easy for one of these post-Christian college brats to read and dismiss without seeing the big picture and the transformation of bestial societies over time due specifically to their Christianization. I’m not one of those who thinks the epithet “Dark Ages” has no meaning but I am firmly convinced that Europe would have been much darker without the new religion and that it might never have emerged from the Dark Ages without it. In fact, it is a rather frightening thing to contemplate. But as you mentioned in the other post, the relation of the eternal kingdom of Christ on earth to the temporal kingdoms who have come to name his name is ineffable. It has always been a mystery and shall remain so. At one extreme you have Christian theocracy and at the other the idea that there could never be such as thing as a Christian kingdom (temporal) which presumes to rule by divine mandate. And above them you have Daniel’s vision proceeding apace. The stone that struck the statue has somehow become a mighty mountain and is still in the process of filling the whole earth. And we have the promise that He will rule until all kingdoms have been subdued under his feet. Not in any dystopian perfect theocratic sense, but however it happens, all the beasts of the nations will eventually be tamed.

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  6. Pingback: Bookish Links — December 2015 | Book Geeks Anonymous

  7. Bruce Charlton says:

    @Sorina – Many smiles and chuckles – witty, erudite high jinks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

      I’ll ‘be-“Amen” ‘that (as we say in Dutch)! – perhaps adding ‘phantasmagorical’ to witty and erudite (it’s like C.W.’s poem about Shakespeare in a Tube station with cheap ed. of Sax Rohmer and a newspaper – but then worked out in detail, Inklings-wise)!

      Liked by 1 person

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