Under the Omnipotence

I’ve made no secret of my heartfelt writerly crush on The Rabbit Room, and it is always an honor and a joy to get to chime in on the Great Conversation that’s going on over there. Most recently I’ve aired some opinions on one of the Inklings, Charles Williams, the man C.S. Lewis called his ‘dearest friend’.

He was the one running back and forth from the bar, keeping everyone supplied with ale and good cheer during the weekly meetings at the Eagle and Child (or “Bird and Baby”, to the seasoned Oxonian). He scarcely uttered a word, playful or serious, into which he did not thrust the intense vitality of his entire personality, for better or for worse. Largely self-taught, he couldn’t even boast of a degree (excepting the honorary MA Oxford eventually conferred upon him near the end of his life), though he sat at ease among some of the greatest minds of the twentieth century. In terms of elegance and concision he was a terrible novelist and a largely unremembered poet.

C.S. Lewis esteemed him among the chiefest of his friends and lauded the deep spirituality of both his writings and his life. The wary Tolkien wasn’t so sure.

If you’re interested enough to find out what I thought, you can read the rest here:

The Inscrutable Inkling

3 Responses to “Under the Omnipotence”

  1. Jeanne says:

    I saw your Rabbit Room post when it came down on my feed reader, but just tonight got it printed out and thoroughly read. Of course I went straight to the packed bookcase, located my Dad’s 1970’s C.W. reprints (Mom wisely placed them sidled up to C.S. Lewis, just inside the bedroom door) , and selected one to reacquaint myself with. I discovered them in my teens, but it’s been quite a while since I gave this Friend of C.S. Lewis’s novels any much thought. Knowing a little more about the man behind them gives me a fresh perspective and a renewed interest. Thank you for sharing so extensively!

    As always, your sharings are a delight, whether abroad at the Rabbit Room or here at home. 🙂

  2. Sheena says:

    Thank you for an excellent essay on a writer I am fairly unfamiliar with. Am I right in remembering that it was Williams who played the largest part in Lewis’s reluctant conversion? Do you see an echo in Lewis’s descriptions of joy in ‘Surprised by joy’ of what you describe of Williams’s theology of the fleeting glimpses of ‘The Omnipresence’ in the everyday? (Does that make sense?)

    • Lanier Ivester says:

      Sheena, Lewis actually met CW later in his life, after he was pretty well-established in his faith. And I haven’t read Surprised by Joy in several years, but I think that’s a safe assessment. 😉 Williams might have given more importance to the glimpses themselves, turning them into images, but he definitely saw the eternal significance and potential in the everyday–for better or for worse. Some of the most unforgettable moments in his novels are when people reject that significance to their eternal peril. His books are nothing if not harrowing. 😉

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