12/06/2019

Living in the Same Spiritual World: C.S. Lewis & Charles Williams

"“I had a pleasant evening on Thursday with Williams, Tolkien, and Wrenn, during which Wrenn expressed ALMOST seriously a strong wish to burn Williams, or at least maintained that conversation with Williams enabled him to understand how inquisitors had felt it right to burn people,” C.S. Lewis wrote in a private letter to his brother, Warnie, on November 5, 1939. C.L. Wrenn was not the only Inkling to express doubts about the newest member of the club, Charles Williams, who had joined the literary association immediately after Oxford University Press had moved its offices from London to Oxford because of the war with Germany. Tolkien, too, felt not just caution but near repulsion when it came to Williams. Tolkien “disliked his—dabbling in—the occult,” Humphrey Havard remembered in a 1984 interview. Tolkien even referred to Williams as the “witch doctor.” Additionally, Tolkien never appreciated Williams’s intrusion into Tolkien’s and Lewis’s friendship. In the interview just mentioned, Havard tried to explain just how much this hurt Tolkien. “I think that Tolkien may have sensed that it was more than just a literary thing, because his feeling against it was—was really quite intense,” Havard explained. “He—it was a strain—it strained their friendship, between Tolkien and Lewis. Lewis was fascinated by Williams, and rightly—he was—a very extraordinary charm. You couldn’t be in the same room with him without being attracted to him.” Immensely taken with Williams, though, Lewis thought the man so good he could “paint virtue.”"