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Charles Williams: The Third Inkling

by Grevel Lindop

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With Charles Williams: The Third Inkling, Grevel Lindop gives us the first full biography of the 20th century poet, novelist, literary critic, playwright, biographer, and theologian Charles Williams. Despite the subtitle, which highlights Williams’s participation in the Oxford literary group that included C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, Lindop’s treatment of Williams does not focus on his place as an Inkling. The portrait he offers is of an ‘important English poet who has been almost forgotten’. Through his career as an editor at Oxford University Press, his London County Council evening lectures, and later his lectures at Oxford University, Williams established a significant network of literary relationships.
added by jburlinson | editLiterature and Theology, Andrew C. Stout (pay site) (Mar 29, 2017)
 
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0199284156, Hardcover)

This is the first full biography of Charles Williams (1886-1945), an extraordinary and controversial figure who was a central member of the Inklings--the group of Oxford writers that included C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Charles Williams--novelist, poet, theologian, magician and guru--was the strangest, most multi-talented, and most controversial member of the group.

He was a pioneering fantasy writer, who still has a cult following. C.S. Lewis thought his poems on King Arthur and the Holy Grail were among the best poetry of the twentieth century for 'the soaring and gorgeous novelty of their technique, and their profound wisdom'. But Williams was full of contradictions. An influential theologian, Williams was also deeply involved in the occult, experimenting extensively with magic, practising erotically-tinged rituals, and acquiring a following of devoted disciples.

Membership of the Inklings, whom he joined at the outbreak of the Second World War, was only the final phase in a remarkable career. From a poor background in working-class London, Charles Williams rose to become an influential publisher, a successful dramatist, and an innovative literary critic. His friends and admirers included T.S. Eliot, W.H. Auden, Dylan Thomas, and the young Philip Larkin.

A charismatic personality, he held left-wing political views, and believed that the Christian churches had dangerously undervalued sexuality. To redress the balance, he developed a "Romantic Theology", aiming at an approach to God through sexual love. He became the most admired lecturer in wartime Oxford, influencing a generation of young writers before dying suddenly at the height of his powers.

This biography draws on a wealth of documents, letters and private papers, many never before opened to researchers, and on more than twenty interviews with people who knew Williams. It vividly recreates the bizarre and dramatic life of this strange, uneasy genius, of whom Eliot wrote, "For him there was no frontier between the material and the spiritual world."

(retrieved from Amazon Fri, 21 Aug 2015 12:51:44 -0400)

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