The Place of the Lion by Charles Williams
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Williams is an author in whose work the plot itself (at times obscure and even tedious) is second to the style in which it is written, which is in turn second to the ideas he wants to communicate. It’s the ideas that are rich. This is appropriate for a book about Platonic ideals breaking into the physical world. I read Williams for the first time years ago, after a return from Oxford and the realization that there was an Inkling of whom I had never heard. If you’ve read Lewis’s THAT HIDEOUS STRENGTH, you’ve some idea of what to expect. Philosophical fantasy in 1930s England. Returning to Williams now, after having some proper grounding in philosophical studies, I’m enjoying him much more. He is admittedly more dense and verbose than a Lewis or Tolkien. I still found myself rolling my eyes a bit as the novel reached its conclusion. But throughout there is also that bright strangeness one finds in the other Inklings, Gene Wolfe, sometimes in Borges, more boisterously in Chesterton, and more hilariously in Lafferty– the idea that the world is a terrifyingly good place. That is a world these writers live in, and they believe it to be the true world. I’d like to believe it too– or at least, act and write as though it were.