It was as an ‘Arthurian’ that I first consciously encountered Charles Williams, with that adjective applying to both him and me. (I, ever since I was given Emma Gelders Sterne and Barbara Lindsay’s retelling, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, as a little fellow, however hair-raising were Gustaf Tenggren’s depictions of Lancelot’s sword splitting Meliagrance’s helmeted head in half and the giant Taulurd’s severed arm in mid-air as Sir Tor hewed it off.) It was only later that I realized I had already happily encountered him, enriching Dorothy Sayers’ notes in her translation of Dante’s Comedy.
However, it was not until I thought to ‘work on him’ seriously that I came to learn how many of Williams’ Arthurian writings were still unpublished. In this adventure of reading I ended up as a textual editor. But I have also been in awe of that other kind of editor – of a thematic collection of papers – ever since I saw Mark Ormrod working on England in the Fourteenth Century when we were both teaching at Harlaxton College. If working on a single author’s unknown works has its rewards, it takes a certain kind of skill and editorial eye to bring all those perspectives together into a single volume.
Sørina Higgins has clearly done a particularly awesome piece of work in editing The Inklings and King Arthur: J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, C.S. Lewis, & Owen Barfield on the Matter of Britain. On a scale much less grand, we have aimed to do something similar here with the ‘Inklings and Arthur’ series this winter. The series will highlight a dozen posts from leading and emerging scholars from the fields of medieval and renaissance literature, Arthurian studies, and Inklings studies–as well as poets, writers, artists, and students.
I am honoured to serve as guest editor of this little series of online works to help celebrate its appearance – and relieved to think I have our seasoned host to pilot me safely through any shoals or reefs which may appear en route. While it is my particular delight to be the first to see the ferment of our contributors’ ideas and savour the results, I am happy to think you will be joining me in their enjoyment in the weeks ahead. Watch for an Inklings and Arthur post each Wednesday, and feel free to join in the conversation.
David Llewellyn Dodds has edited the Charles Williams and John Masefield
volumes of Boydell & Brewer’s Arthurian Poets series, the first while
President of the Oxford C.S. Lewis Society, living at and looking after
The Kilns. His most recent publication is “‘Tolkien’s Narnia’?: Lit.,
Lang., Saints, Tinfang, and a Mythology – or two – for Christmas”, in
Tolkien Among Scholars (Lembas Extra 2016). He is currently editing
Charles Williams’s Arthurian Commonplace Book, and an early cycle of
Arthurian poetry, The Advent of Galahad, for publication (with
tortoise-like slowness, if not steadiness).