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Many Dimensions by Charles Williams
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Many Dimensions (1931)

by Charles Williams

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Aspects of Power (2)

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This came with one of the blurbiest blurbs I’ve ever read:

'[Williams writes] … Serious, mystical books containing visionary, descriptive passages of great beauty and great power; yet their form is the form of a thriller, and their characters are flesh and blood figures in an ordinary world.'

Chapter one describes three men discussing what to do with the crown of King Solomon, stolen from an ancient Persian family, which apparently allows the user to teleport in space and, possibly, time. So much for ‘flesh and blood figures in an ordinary world’.

There are a few flashes of wit (‘Can you move other people with it, or is it like season tickets?’), but they are buried beneath piles of (I think) turgid prose.

‘"He has foreknown that which he is now experiencing?" Lord Arglay asked.
‘"I think so," Ibrahim answered. "But though he knew it i do not think it is now within his memory, nor will be until he reaches the end. For to remember the future he must have foreknown the memory of the future, and yet that he could not do without first foreknowing it without memory. So I think he is spared that evil."

You could randomly rearrange all of those words and make as much sense. And there is page after page of this stuff.

Read my full review at http://pastoffences.wordpress.com/2012/09/29/charles-williams-many-dimensions/ ( )
  westwoodrich | Mar 30, 2013 |
This came with one of the blurbiest blurbs I’ve ever read:

'[Williams writes] … Serious, mystical books containing visionary, descriptive passages of great beauty and great power; yet their form is the form of a thriller, and their characters are flesh and blood figures in an ordinary world.'

Chapter one describes three men discussing what to do with the crown of King Solomon, stolen from an ancient Persian family, which apparently allows the user to teleport in space and, possibly, time. So much for ‘flesh and blood figures in an ordinary world’.

There are a few flashes of wit (‘Can you move other people with it, or is it like season tickets?’), but they are buried beneath piles of (I think) turgid prose.

‘"He has foreknown that which he is now experiencing?" Lord Arglay asked.
‘"I think so," Ibrahim answered. "But though he knew it i do not think it is now within his memory, nor will be until he reaches the end. For to remember the future he must have foreknown the memory of the future, and yet that he could not do without first foreknowing it without memory. So I think he is spared that evil."

You could randomly rearrange all of those words and make as much sense. And there is page after page of this stuff.

Read my full review at http://pastoffences.wordpress.com/2012/09/29/charles-williams-many-dimensions/ ( )
  westwoodrich | Mar 30, 2013 |
Like Williams' first novel War in Heaven, the main business of Many Dimensions is an extended scrimmage over a holy relic: in this case, the Stone of the Wise that was set in the crown of King Solomon. Continuity with the earlier book is provided in the person of a single character, the sadistically inquisitive Sir Giles Tumulty. Other key characters include English Chief Justice Lord Christopher Arglay, who seems to be a sort of secular adeptus major undergoing an initiation to adeptus exemptus in the course of the novel, and his personal secretary Chloe Burnett who meanwhile climbs the entire mystical ladder from neophyte to magister templi.

Many of the chapter titles have a clever ambivalence. "The Refusal of Lord Arglay" could mean that Arglay is refused or refusing. Similarly, "The Discovery of Giles Tumulty" could mean that Tumulty is discovered or discovering.

Many Dimensions functions with some effectiveness as a parable regarding the magical will. The overt reflection on this topic is quasi-incidentally remarked in a quotation from 13th-century English jurist Henry of Bracton: Attribuat igitur rex legi, quod lex attribuit ei, videlicet dominationem et potestatem. Non est enim rex ubi dominatur voluntas et non lex. (214) Williams doubtless contemplated this maxim in a theological, rather than a magical sense, but the action of his novel is open to both.

There is a surprisingly sympathetic treatment of Islam in this book, creating a contrast with the sort of moronic Islamophobia in which Williams' friend C.S. Lewis trafficked in the form of his villainous Calormenes. Although Williams was the author of works of Christian theology, his fiction shows him to have a generous religious imagination, including a warmth toward conscientious skepticism. This latter is on full display in the character of Lord Arglay, who at one point describes the Christian Passion as "one of the myths of our race."
3 vote paradoxosalpha | May 9, 2011 |
Very disappointing. Silly. Of its time. Didn't finish but may try again. ( )
  Woodcat | Jan 8, 2010 |
A supernatural thriller from the man who was a friend of Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. LOTR fans will find some interesting points in here. It's a window into how people thought during the 1930s, and as such often strikes as strangely old-fashioned. Williams raises more questions than he answers, which is the problem I always have with writers of a mystical bent. Still, I'm glad I read it; I'm a Tolkien, Lewis and Sayers fan, so it's good to read the work of another Inkling. ( )
  JaneSteen | Aug 28, 2009 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Charles Williamsprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lamb, Jimsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Do you mean," Sir Giles said, "that the thing never gets smaller?"
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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
'What do you think he meant by saying that the way to the Stone was in the Stone?' Chloe asked again. 'And what is the way?' 'I do not know what he meant,' Arglay answered, 'though certainly the way to any end is in that end itself. For as you cannot know any study but by learning it, or gain any virtue but by practising it, so you cannot be anyting but by becoming it. And that sounds obvious enough, doesn't it? And yet,' he went on, as to himself, 'by becoming one thing a man ceases to be what he was, and no one but he can tell how tragic that change may be. What do yo want to be, Chloe?'
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Book description
Sir Giles Tumulty has purchased (or bribed his way into possession of) a mysterious Stone bearing the four sacred letters of the name of God, with apparently supernatural powers. Being of a scientific bent and short on moral scruples, he wants to experiment on it; his associate wants to make money from its power of teleportation. A man from the Persian Embassy identifies it as the stone from the crown of King Suleiman and wants to reclaim it as a holy relic. The stone can be multiplied, and soon there are several, and both civil and international unrest seem to loom. Keeping a cool eye on developments is Lord Arglay, the Lord Chief Justice and his secretary, Chloe, who develops a curious mystical link with the Stone.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 080281221X, Paperback)

Imagine Raiders of the Lost Ark set in 20th-century London, and then imagine it written by a man steeped not in Hollywood movies but in Dante and the things of the spirit, and you might begin to get a picture of Charles Williams's novel Many Dimensions. The plot turns on the discovery of the magical Stone of Solomon, through which one can move at will through space, time, and thought. Those who think they can manipulate the stone to serve their own ends, however, find to their horror that, as Jesus once ironically said, "they have their reward." While the story clearly deals with the extraordinary, through his humorous and loving depiction of his British characters Williams more deeply shows us the spiritual reality that lies inside the ordinary. --Doug Thorpe

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:55:17 -0400)

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