TTL 17: “The Son of Lancelot.” — by Brenton D. G. Dickieson

ttl rssC.S. Lewis is an author that sends us elsewhere. We pick up The Silver Chair and discover that our ill-used copy of The Divine Comedy needs some time. We pull down Out of the Silent Planet, and then instinctively reach for H.G. Wells. When we are lost in Perelandra, a literary suspicion arises in us that this rich book would be even richer if we reread our Milton. In an age of books designed to be accessible for readers too busy to read, it is encouraging to encounter an author who is so very simple on the surface, but whose work is many layers deep.

Lewis’ That Hideous Strength is one of those deeply layered pieces. It is a puzzling book, bringing in the dystopia tradition, classic SF, the Lord of the Rings, Arthur in prophecy and medieval romance. Yet there is another element in That Hideous Strength that is unique to this book. It was that element that sent me to Lewis’ friend and fellow Inkling, Charles Williams.

Without the link to Lewis and Tolkien, Charles Williams may have been in some danger of being a forgotten poet. His work is obscure, a kind of inventive genius and perversity combined, where abstractions are literalized and symbols may be in danger of coming to life and devouring the characters (or the reader).

With a writer like Charles Williams, it is okay to have a guide.

sorina higgins chapel of the thorn charles williamsSørina Higgins is a leading Williams scholar, curator of the Oddest Inkling blog, and editor of The Chapel of the Thorn, an unpublished Charles Williams play from 1912. From time to time she recruits a number of guest writers to do a series. The current one is ambitious: to have a blog on each of the poems of Williams’ Arthurian book, Taliessin through Logres.

The 24 poems are covered by students and scholars, exploring the themes in reflections, queries, and critical pieces. My own piece is a longer literary critical reflection on “The Son of Lancelot.” I had some notes written the last time I read Taliessin through Logres (last winter), and Sørina’s call for papers gave me a chance to write out my thoughts. Check out my piece on Williams’ Arthuriad as Jewish Apocalypse, and then go to the other (shorter!) pieces to see the varied and complex ways that readers respond to his poetry.

The Oddest Inkling

ttl rssHere is Post #17 in the Series on Taliessin through Logres! It’s a long one, but a good one. Please visit the INTRODUCTION to this series first, and here is the INDEX to the other posts in the series.

13271532_10154334933072089_563142313_oToday’s post is by Brenton D. G. Dickieson.

Brenton D. G. Dickieson (@BrentonDana) holds a B.A. from Maritime Christian College and an M.C.S. from Regent College and is a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Chester. Brenton teaches at Maritime Christian College, the University of Prince Edward Island, Regent College, and Signum University. Brenton is the author of the popular Faith, Fantasy, and Fiction blog A Pilgrim in Narnia. Brenton lives with his wife Kerry and their son Nicolas in the almost-fictional land of Prince Edward Island.

Charles Williams’ Arthurian Apocalypse: Thoughts on “The Son of Lancelot”

I was relieved when I came to this first line…

View original post 3,054 more words

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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6 Responses to TTL 17: “The Son of Lancelot.” — by Brenton D. G. Dickieson

  1. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    I hope people are going there to read the rest, even without mentioning it, here – it really is a rich, thought-provoking (as well as informative) commentary!

    One of the interesting things is the whisking away of the child, not only to safety but fostering. My first thought just reading the poem might be to make mediaeval comparisons – the custom of sending a son to learn how to serve and be trained up to become a knight with another and others, rather than at home, and also the saving and fostering of Arthur by Merlin – who brings him as baby to Sir Ector for care so that Sir Kay is his foster brother in some mediaeval sources (and modern uses, like T.H. White’s The Sword and the Stone, and what Disney made of it). I’d need to comb these poems to see if there is any hint Williams has selected that as part of his retelling, too – I simply don’t remember seeing any clear evidence, but it may be there.

    Anyway, your putting things so distinctly in Biblical and Apocalyptic context (including old but not Biblical-canonical writings) has got me also thinking about such comparisons as Samuel near the Ark with Eli and the stories of the Virgin Mary similarly left for fostering at the Temple. To what end? I don’t know, but having the comparisons mysteriously fostered by your commentary, they seem worth pondering.


  2. Pingback: Losing the Safety of the Real in That Hideous Strength | A Pilgrim in Narnia

  3. Pingback: Charles Williams’s Arthurian Treasury by Grevel Lindop | A Pilgrim in Narnia

  4. Pingback: “C.S. Lewis’ Arthuriad: Survey and Speculation” by Brenton Dickieson | A Pilgrim in Narnia

  5. Pingback: The Inklings and Arthur Series Index | A Pilgrim in Narnia

  6. Pingback: The Inklings and King Arthur: Selfies and News | A Pilgrim in Narnia

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