The Place of the Lion in C.S. Lewis’ Fiction

The Place of the Lion by Charles WilliamsI have recently had the pleasure of being a guest blogger for The Oddest Inkling in a series on Charles Williams’ The Place of the Lion. This was the first Williams book that C.S. Lewis had ever encountered, and it was transformational for him. My question in this blog is what role it played in Lewis’ own fiction writing.

The Place of the Lion in C.S. Lewis’ Fiction

I came to Charles Williams’ The Place of the Lion because of my work in C.S. Lewis. I know that Williams had a great influence upon Lewis, and I am determined to find out how deep that influence really is. Moreover, Lewis discovers the Lion at a key point in his life: his academic career is building with the release of The Allegory of Love (1936) and his continual work on The Personal Heresy (1939) . It is at this point, though, that Lewis takes an abrupt shift in direction. He writes a SciFi thriller, Out of the Silent Planet (1938) and begins working on his first books defending Christianity to the general public. Instead of a career as a public academic and controversialist, Lewis becomes a storyteller and faith-sharer.

You have to ask: What caused that great shift?

Plus… well, it is kind of obvious: the image of the Lion ends up being pretty important to Lewis later in life. Most readers of Lewis meet Aslan first. So is Aslan conceived (or pre-conceived) during Lewis’ first reading of The Place of the Lion?

This is why I have picked up this Charles Williams thriller. Plus, I’m always game for a good book, and I’ve heard this is one of Williams’ best.

To the book.

Wow. Well, frankly, The Place of the Lion is one of the most disorienting things I have ever read….

Continue reading here:

About Brenton Dickieson

“A Pilgrim in Narnia” is a blog project in reading and talking about the work of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the worlds they touched. As a "Faith, Fantasy, and Fiction" blog, we cover topics like children’s literature, apologetics and philosophy, myths and mythology, fantasy, theology, cultural critique, art and writing. This blog includes my thoughts as I read through Lewis and Tolkien and reflect on my own life and culture. In this sense, I am a Pilgrim in Narnia--or Middle Earth, or Fairyland. I am often peeking inside of wardrobes, looking for magic bricks in urban alleys, or rooting through yard sale boxes for old rings. If something here captures your imagination, leave a comment, “like” a post, share with your friends, or sign up to receive Narnian Pilgrim posts in your email box. Brenton Dickieson is a father, husband, friend, university lecturer, and freelance writer from Prince Edward Island, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter, @BrentonDana.
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13 Responses to The Place of the Lion in C.S. Lewis’ Fiction

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  4. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    Dear Brenton,
    I just ran into something in my reading, which I left as a comment with your post at The Oddest Inkling and which I hope you will excuse my duplicating here.
    Namely, Has anyone looked into a possible connection between Aslan, Tash, and Arslan Tash (the modern name of the site of the ancient city of Hadatu) and the Assyrian sculptures and reliefs found there (enjoying western scholarly attention since 1836) and the (somewhat controversial) amulets associated with that place since 1933? The smaller amulet has a winged lion with human head and a she-wolf with scorpion tail on one side, and H. Torczyner, in “A Hebrew Incantation Against Night Demons from Biblical Times”, JNES, vol. 6, No. 1 (Jan. 1947), says of the former “called in Hebrew Ariel or Cherub”.

    The glossing of the Biblical name ‘Ariel’ as ‘lion of God’ would have been readily accessible to Williams and Lewis.


    • I’ve been thinking about this response for a few days. Madeleine L”Engle in “Many Waters” uses many Hebrew and Hebrew-like names for her angelic figures.
      Your thought on Aslan is a good experiment, but I cannot confirm it. I’ve hunted for a few hours but have nothing. I was looking for his knowledge of the area, the use of the town names, etc. He does mention “Ariel” in the Temptest once.


      • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

        Thanks for digging into this! It is admittedly highly speculative, and perhaps Edith Nesbit and H.R. Millar in The Story of the Amulet are source enough for a lot of the Assyrian-seeming elements among the Calormenes, but it is, of course, possible that something was in the news or some interested fellow don or student mentioned something in passing about Arslan Tash and its finds.

        Naturally, what is possible and what happened can be worlds apart – for example, my great uncle was named Ariel, and the possible gloss as ‘lion of God’ is in the Oxford Cyclopedic Concordance in the back of his father’s old Bible (which I have), yet I do not recall ever being aware of it till I went to check on Torczyner’s note!


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