The Inscrutable Inkling


As for the man: he is about 52, of humble origin (there are still traces of cockney in his voice), ugly as a chimpanzee but so radiant (he emanates more love than any man I have ever known) that as soon as he begins talking whether in private or in a lecture he is transfigured and looks like an angel…In spite of his ‘angelic’ quality he is also quite an earthy person and when Warnie, Tolkien, he and I meet for our pint in a pub in Broad Street, the fun is often so fast and furious that the company probably thinks we’re talking bawdy when in fact we’re very likely talking Theology. —C. S. Lewis

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.

The readers of Charles Williams are as divided as the Inklings themselves were. To some, his books have been the catalyst to a mind-blowing experience of true Christ-like living. To others, equally devout, they reek of the cockamamie, if not the downright heretical. Dorothy Sayers has said of this phenomenon of polarity that “[Williams’ writing] is so individual as at a first encounter to disconcert, perplex, or even antagonize those on whom it did not, on the contrary, break as a sudden light to them that had sat in darkness.”

I heartily concur. I picked up his novel Descent into Hell a few years ago upon the trusted recommendation of one of my favorite authors, Sheldon Vanauken, anticipating, I imagine, the same soaring and lucid sublimities in the one as I had found in the other. If I was looking for the beauty of my faith all laid out in beautiful and logical array, what I found was an (apparently) chaotic jumble of events past and present that seemed to all be happening at the same time and a confusing array of symbols I was not yet friendly enough with my Dante to fully appreciate.

In short, I was right merrily kerflummoxed.

But it was the merriment, methinks, that took hold and insisted that there was something there worth the trouble of seeing. A merriment not related to content (heavens, no—Williams’ books are notoriously dark) but in the larger sense of commedia: the hell and purgatory one must slough through in quest of the bewildering glories of paradise and the often humorous, often tragic performance we all make of it every day of our lives. I couldn’t help being haunted by it and its suggestion of a larger life than even many Christians dare to dream of (not to mention its sobering conclusion to the rejection of that life). Not long after that I found, quite by accident, the key to many of the riddles of Descent amid the verses and notes of Sayer’s immortal translation of the Comedy (highly recommended!); many, but certainly not all by the least stretch of the imagination.

For Charles Williams did not merely reaffirm the tried and respected imagery of the Christian faith, much as he revered it. Dante was his father in many ways, but Williams had a natural predisposition to view his life—and the faith that defined it—as a high romance of pilgrimage, expressing the inexpressible along the royal road with a series of carefully-constructed symbols which he was to call “The Way of the Images”. Nothing was without potential, in Williams’ economy: anything and everything might illumine, in some flashing moment of insight, the character and attributes of the God whom he lovingly referred to as “the Omnipotence”. For Williams, an image was not a snare of idolatry such as the forbidden ‘graven image’ would be (in other words, an image crafted with the intention of reproducing or replicating God) but a sudden, striking, unlooked-for shaft of glory piercing the veil between time and timelessness. Such a likeness noted and looked beyond was an image; grasped after, clutched for, it became an idol. And thus it was that an image of peaceful jurisdiction might leap from the tattered history of the Byzantine empire as easily as one car yielding to another in traffic might provide a practical expression of love at its most basic and fundamental. And perhaps, most earth-shattering of all, the uniquely human experience of falling in love—what Williams called ‘the Beatrician moment’—had the most potential of any image, granting a peep, however flawed, not only into what our love for God can look like, but what His love for us does look like.

“This also is Thou; neither is this Thou.” Thus runs the famous (at least among Williamsites) maxim that defined his theology. Any created thing can be a God-bearer to us, translated by an extraordinary grace into a language that our hearts know and understand, a speech transcending words wooing us back to the Lover of our souls. And any image, however incandescent with holy fire, will eventually burn itself out and return to the dust from whence it sprang. The reflection is not reality; the God-bearer is not God.

But all this accepting and rejecting of images is only one facet of the gorgeously-textured pattern of splendor that comprises Williams’ theology. At the very heart of it all lies a glorious experiment in holy living that calculates on nothing less sublime than the revelation of Christ in the life of any believer, however sin-scarred and inept. “Christ in you, the hope of glory”—and in Williams’ mind, that glory was not only a promised destiny but an immediate and imminent possibility, sleeping just beneath the surface of the everyday, awaiting only the electric touch of love to set every nerve and fiber thrilling with the life that is truly Life. It’s under such a conviction that he is able to make a heroine in one of his novels literally enter into the sufferings of Christ for another, a friend scarcely regarded before. And to set a fearful young woman before the face of terrifying evil with a fearless smile on her lips—a smile that is the evil’s undoing as much as anything. All of this comes under what Williams would call the doctrines of “exchange” and “substituted love”, and the lesser images of it are cropping up all over the place, from the substitution of a grain of wheat falling into the ground to provide our bread, to the exchange of our hard-earned money to pay for it. (It’s a truly fascinating world of thought and awareness and should you care to read more, Mary McDermott Shideler has written a thorough study of Williams’ writings that will give you palpitations if you go in for that kind of thing. And I trust I’m in good company there.)

Last fall, my husband and I read All Hallows Eve, Charles Williams’ last novel and the only one that the Inklings actually weighed in on, with a group of close friends. Friends close enough to disagree with—vehemently—and I was as excited at the prospect of mirthsome debate as I was in finishing the book.

“There’s such a hilarity of joy here, such a glorious acknowledgement of interdependence among believers in this book,” I wrote in my journal. “And there is a great and bracing sense of chastening. You get what you ask for—you get what you really want. That is righteously terrifying. Evil is real and at work. But no matter how dark this book got—no matter what places Williams took us—there was always a saint ready to laugh.”

What I had found in the pages of Williams seemed strangely—wildly, madly—familiar. I can only describe it as a recognition. Hints of a glory I’d dreamed of. Resounding yeses to things I’d always hoped were true—things I didn’t even know I’d hoped for till the light shone on them and I realized, suddenly, matter-of-factly, that I’d hoped for them all along. Williams through his fantasy showed me that everything matters in the real world—from the slightest inclination to the most valiant deeds—and, oh! isn’t that what we both long and fear to hear? Everything matters and everything is redeemable. The choice between a practical heaven and hell lies open for all of us at every second. Not in terms of a shaky plan of salvation, of course, but in the sense of a moment to moment preference of our souls.

To dwell in love is to soar towards heaven with the springing joy of a homing dove. To choose love’s antitheses is to make my bed in hell.

Sitting by the fire that night over sherry and coffee, Williams in one hand and the venerable Thomas Howard in the other, we lit in with unmixed civility. And it soon became evident that not a one among us was on the fence.

One sat by in a mostly bemused silence, breaking it only with a wry and well-timed remark on some of the characters’ resemblances to the apparently undead models in the latest Anthropologie catalogue. Another was on the edge of his seat, figuratively if not literally, a finger poised between the leaves and senses tuned to the perfect moment for sharing a loved passage or two.

“That was the darkest book I have ever read,” said yet another, with a shudder and a wrinkling of the nose.

I said I’d never been so accosted by a story. I felt like Williams was dragging me along by the collar, unwilling to let me rest or flag till I had some inkling of this stupendous Love that he was breaking every literary rule to show me.

I said much more than that, little that’s worth repeating, and in my zeal received the occasional raised eyebrow from my husband across the room, roughly translated as “let someone else have a go, sweetheart”.

But the conversation hasn’t really ended, even to this day. A few weeks ago a dear, wise, well-read friend parenthetically remarked that All Hallows Eve was certainly not a favorite.

“It seemed cumbersome to wade through all that weirdness to get any nuggets worth bending the page for.”

I imagine Tolkien would lift his glass to that. “I was and remain wholly unsympathetic to Williams’ mind,” he wrote. “We had nothing to say to one another.”

To each his own. But in the proper Inklings spirit, allow me to suggest making his acquaintance if you haven’t already. You may not be on speaking terms with Williams at the end of it all, but I can assure you it’ll be one heck of a ride.

Lanier Ivester is a “Southern Lady” in the best and most classical sense and a gifted writer in the most articulate and literal sense. She hand-binds books and lives on a farm with peacocks, bees, sheep, and the governor of Ohio’s leg. She loves old books and sells them from her website,, and she’s currently putting the final touches on her first novel, as well as studying literature at Oxford.


  1. Rebekah

    Compelling and convincing, Lanier. I think I will go in for the ride. I will let you know how Williams and I sit together.

  2. Jazz

    Inklings!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love them. my girlfriends and have started a thing called the Inkleresses after them. we write stories, just like them, only the stories are really silly.

  3. Drew

    I’ve tried several of Williams’ books, and could never finish a one. However, having nothing currently in my queue, perhaps this is a good time to revisit them.

  4. Lanier Ivester

    Drew, allow me to recommend Thomas Howard’s wonderful commentary on the novels of Charles Williams. The introduction is worth the price of the book and gives a great perspective on some of the ‘wilder’ notions in his works.

  5. Andrew Peterson


    Lanier! I love the way you write. You had me at “kerflummoxed”. And I’ve been looking forward to the right season in life to pick up a Charles Willams book. Everything I’ve read about him has been interesting, but your post has pushed Williams into the realm of intriguing. I must needs read me some, as they say in old Georgia.

  6. Chris Yokel

    Recently I’ve been thinking about wanting to read some of his writings. I was thinking about starting with The Place of the Lion–it is the only Williams work I’ve ever heard of.

  7. Fellow Traveler

    All Hallow’s Eve and Descent Into Hell are the only two I’ve read, but I’m told they are his two best by far. I would recommend that people start with the former.

    Williams is not for everybody, but he’s nothing if not interesting. I do not think he was the greatest novelist ever, but there’s a strange power in his writing, and that’s what Lanier was feeling, I think. As a person, he was certainly very strange and had a lot of odd ideas. That carries over to a large extent into his writings, but in the two cases I mentioned, it somehow works. They’re rather dark, particularly the second one, but there is a lot of profundity there, and they will certainly give you something to chew on.

  8. Matt J.

    Great post on Williams. It is so true that there is no sitting on the fence with him. I’ve finally read enough of his stuff I have the confidence to say… thumbs down. Some of his theological ideas really do deserve to be called “glorious”, yes! But I can hardly stand to read his novels, though I have made my way through three of them now. Sigh. I tried really really hard to like Williams, but I will pretend no more.

    On a side note, his non-fiction, though somewhat disorganized is pretty solid. The Descent of the Dove offers a quirky perspective on church history and his The Figure of Arthur is a wonderfully concise and excellent intro and analysis of Arthurian legend.

  9. Jonathan Rogers

    Thanks, Lanier. The one time I picked up Charles Williams, I put him down forthwith. It is my strict policy not to read anything I don’t feel like reading, and I just didn’t feel like reading it. Your piece, however, makes me think maybe I do feel like reading him.

    AP, I don’t think they say “I must needs read me some” in old Georgia.

  10. Lanier Ivester

    AP, I’m afraid I’m going to have to side with Jonathan on this one. Most people in Georgia can’t read.

    Matt, thanks for the recommendation. ‘Descent of the Dove’ is next on my list. 🙂

    Fellow Traveler, yes. Williams was an interesting dude in real life. I imagine that’s why Tolkien was so skeptical. But I agree, it’s amazing (and, yes, rather glorious) that his perspective can grant such unforgettable insights into what being in Christ can look like. The dark places in ‘All Hallows Eve’ I plowed through as a matter of course; it was the light-filled passages that made me lay down the book to catch my breath. Thanks for your thoughts. 🙂

  11. Lanier Ivester

    Becca, I think you can begin anywhere, but Thomas Howard has said that ‘Descent into Hell’ comes closest to the structure of a ‘normal’ novel. Really, do take Thomas Howard (‘The Novels of Charles Williams’) along with you on the journey–I can’t recommend him highly enough as a trusty companion. Kind of like a cross between Dante’s Virgil and Gandalf.

  12. Ashley S.

    Though I haven’t read any of Williams’ works, I would highly recommend reading “The Inklings” by Humphrey Carpenter. Carpenter gives great insight into the individual inklings (mainly Lewis and Williams) and their place within the group. He also gives a lot of introductory info into Williams’ life and works, and some great thoughts on how the one affected the other. A must read for all Inklings fans.

    Now, I guess I need to officially add Williams to my reading list. Great post, Lanier!

  13. S. D. Smith


    Thanks, Lanier. I’ll admit I felt a kindred spirit with Williams when you wrote: “…he was a terrible novelist and a largely unremembered poet.” That sounds about right.

    Tolkien may have been right on this one, curmudgeonly and wrong though he certainly often was. JRRT did, after all, hate Narnia. It was left to Roger L. Green to rescue that for us.

    I think most would agree with me when I say that you are a far better writer than CW, God bless him.

  14. Leanne

    I’m glad to see someone highlighting Charles Williams here. Thanks for this post!

    I’ve read a handful of his books, and yes, they’re strange. But he achieves a few moments in each book that for me, have poured water on my thirsty soul. I still shiver thinking about them. The Greater Trumps is a good one. I also loved All Hallows Eve and The Place of the Lion. Definitely weird, but containing images that feed that sengsucht that Lewis was always talking about.

    (By the way, I’ve also read that Tolkien may have been a bit jealous of the close friendship that Lewis and Williams quickly cultivated. So his analysis of Williams work may be biased because of that. We’re all so human aren’t we?)

  15. Lanier Ivester

    Ashley, hear, hear. Excellent recommendation. (Although I do feel that Carpenter had the teensiest negative slant against CW…or maybe it’s just the Southerner in me that can’t resist the cause of the underdog. ;))

    Sam, if I were a character in a Williams novel, your generous words would incite some kind of perilous crucible in which I’d be tried on every word, thought and idea in search of dross. As it is, it’s just plain ole me, and as such, I thank you.

    Leanne–yes, YES. That’s just it. “The inconsolable longing for we know not what…”

  16. BuckBuck the Nordic Wonderduck

    CEASE your taunting, Jazz.

    The cape of BuckBuck is a four foot Sham-Wow.

    She wreaks duck havoc against the powers of Eee-vil with a seven-pound Shake Weight.

    She is free range, hormone free, and an active member of the Constitution Party.

    And when all the world wails, “Woe, Woe, Woebegone!” she stares into the face of hopeless causes and dangles a preposition. And she likes it.

  17. Sean Williams

    Having read both of namesake Charles’ most famous novels (All Hallow’s Eve & Descent Into Hell) within the last year, I find that neither are imprinted on my mind as are most other works of fiction I have read in the past dozen years. Perhaps it is the way one is floated along the story line, with few lanyards with which to grasp the actions of the characters. Williams, while indeed having some keen insights into personal relationships as evidenced in his character interactions, quite bluntly creates plots that are sometimes frustratingly difficult to follow. Or maybe it’s the surreality of the plots that seem to tug at my conscience, almost as if I were reading something that was a bit “off”.

    As some of my dear friends have pointed out to me about his novels, the true genius of Charles Williams is in the bigger picture of the message of his stories. Maybe I’m too pragmatic to excuse irregularities and inconsistencies in the details of the story. Timelines were left to much speculation, and it was difficult for me to try to fill in the missing pieces. As fans of Lewis, Dickens, MacDonald, Schaeffer, and other gifted and deep writers, I hope that it is not a flaw in my character which has precluded me from extrapolating the substance of Williams’ works. As with some other brilliant writers, I sometimes have to re-read entire passages at least once before taking full comprehension of the precepts. It is quite possible that I was not in the correct frame of mind (whatever that means) to fully grasp his less than ordinary style and stories. Perhaps, even after reading Descent and (admittedly) not quite “getting it”, I was still not prepared for the somewhat morbid All Hallow’s Eve. It is possible that, as a matter of course, I have grown accustomed to and comfortable with styles of writing that are so different from Williams’ that his style and plot structure simply did not register in my “unprepared” mind.

    As it occurs to me now that, since so many of my friends had rather more good things to say about Charles Williams than I, it might just be good for me to give him another go, just to be sure.

  18. Lanier Ivester

    Sean, seeing as I can personally vouch for your character, I think it safe to say that a distaste for Williams (the other one ;)) is no flaw. Anyone as well-read as you can afford to have some non-faves in the ranks.

  19. Matt J.

    The Ink Society: A great thinker and an amazing personality, but yes, possibly a terrible writer.

    Lewis just raved about Williams and the accounts of some of his lectures (as detailed by Humphrey Carpenter) are fascinating. Unfortunately, I think that whatever it was that made Williams so amazing to the people around him went right off and hopped in the casket with him when he passed away. For William’s magic to work, you needed to be there in the room with him.

    For this reason though, I think there is probably a lot of potential value in the little-tilled ground of Williams scholarship. Someone out there needs to unearth some of his glorious ideas and communicate them to us better than he could with his own pen.

  20. Josh

    I first heard the name of C. Williams through John Piper’s quote from “The Place of the Lion” in the frontspiece of “Desiring God”, but found his books quickly in the college library. Frankly, I’d reccommend any Wms. neophyte to start almost where I did, with “War in Heaven” (which is NOT a ‘mystery novel’, mostly because, I think, Williams seems to find the whodunit rather dull) and “The Place of the Lion”. It was only after I had discovered his Inklings connections that I found myself remembering a line of his Jane Studdock quotes in CSL’s “That Hideous Strength”: I’d heard of “Taliesin Through Logres” but never tracked it down. Charles Williams stands between C.S. Lewis and T. S. Eliot (and was friends with both), but his work is like intellectual Glenlivet: exotic, sweet and potent, but you cannot NOT make up your mind about it, one way or another.

  21. The Ink Society

    Matt J: We concur. Charisma is a very non-transferrable feature of personality when it comes to writing. But charisma has its own genius outside of written eloquence. Sadly, it is much more transient, lasting only as long as its holder lives, as in the case of Charles W.

  22. Sean Williams

    Lanier, thank you for your kind words. It seems that this discussion is not yet over, so I will interject a few more observances, lest the waters stay muddied. If my previous comments gave the impression that I harbored a distaste for Charles Williams, that is only partially correct, and I will henceforth attempt to clarify my opinion of his writings.

    Since I have only read two of Williams’ works, I am certainly no expert on either his less than engaging style of writing, his preferred subject matter, or his character in general. But from those two books, I have gleaned what I could as a passive participant in each of the novels. As such, I am left with many doubts as to his ability to completely elucidate his thoughts, not whether or not he had enough cohesive thoughts to compile a complete novel that was both engaging and compelling. I believe he had the thoughts in there, but was simply unable to unleash them with his pen.

    While he has the ability to compel, I must contend that he lacked the rare but essential ability to completely engage the reader to the point that one literally “loses” oneself in the story, as seems to happen with writers of superb ability. This may more simply be stated as the feeling one has while reading that makes one loathe to put the book down. In short, Williams is simply not a “page turner”. It is perhaps his style of prose, which is at times somewhat choppy and lacking in detail that might be my strongest complaint against him. Whether ancients or contemporaries, what is most illustrative of a writer’s popularity and longevity is their ability to convey the most (seemingly) simple details through the complex formation of abundant words and phrases. I think that what Williams is lacking most (or perhaps it was simply an undiscovered talent that was never brought forth) is the ability to effectively describe. While that may sound, at first glance, too simplistic, I think the heart of his primary fault lies here. Writers of fiction create a picture in the mind of the reader with there words. But if the writer fails to adequately describe any element of a part of the story, the reader is left with his own imagination to fill in the gaps. Great writers fill in all the gaps with details.

    The second issue I have with Williams is his somewhat morbid approach to his subject matter. In Descent Into Hell, there is a pervasive sense of dread which seems to lift only near the end of the book. In terms of overall theme, I would be hard pressed to specify any identifiable over-arching theme for either Descent or All Hallow’s Eve. Notwithstanding my inability to put a finger on a theme, his main focus seems to deal primarily with things in the somewhat darker spiritual realms. That is not to say demons and fallen angels, but rather he tries to almost normalize communication with the dead, to the point of utilizing necromancy. I think the technical term for the feeling one acquires when reading of such things is icky. (Although, short of necromancy, anyone who prays- as I do- may also be thought guilty of communicating with “the dead”; however, my “dead” is risen.)

    Lastly, and most mercifully (double entendre), I have given only cursory notice of Williams’ background and life history. From what I have read, he dabbled for a time in one or more certain “orders”, that supposedly were involved in some aspect of things which we would probably classify as cultish, and which may or may not have been altogether true. If he did indeed participate in those organizations, it would help to explain some of his leanings. As a member of the Inklings, Williams was in the company of some of the most brillient men in England on a regular basis. Tolkien was not convinced that he was a good egg, but Lewis thought very highly of him. In deference to Lewis’ judgement, I will gladly concede that Williams was worthy of friendship and love.
    I hope that, at some point in the future after re-reading some of his work, I will have good cause to amend my (gulp) distaste for Williams.

  23. Lanier Ivester

    Sean (and others :)), something occurred to me in one of those highly-productive middle-of-the-night thinking sessions: I remembered a passage from Mary McDermott Shideler’s fabulous study on CW, ‘The Theology of Romantic Love’ wherein she really dug into the divergence of opinion among his readers. She makes a distinction between what she calls ‘imagists’ and ‘allegorists’, and states her belief that most people fall into the category of one or the other. For some people an image is going to convey the truth in the most powerful way; for others, they see things most naturally in an allegorical framework.

    “Whether Williams himself realized the extent to which the use of imagery hindered the understanding of his work, I do not know. I think it probable that he did not, that like most of the rest of us, he universalized the style of thought that was completely self-evident to him.”

    It’s an interesting idea, even if a bit of a generality. 🙂

  24. Benjamin E. Ashford

    A wonderfully written article on a seemingly wonderful man. Although I have little experience with Mr. Charles Williams’ works, it seems intriguing, and has been added to my list of reads. I particularly liked his famous quote, “This also is this Thou, neither is this Thou.” It mirrors the poetic writing style used in ancient Hebraic poetry, alike unto The Psalms in many ways, as it uses the element of a paradoxical contrast that illustrates beautifully the wondrous way in which our God shows Himself through His creation, though to those of the world, is “foolishness to man.” (1 Cor 1:25)

  25. paulineanstruther

    […]That’s why I was fascinated by this article I found over at The Rabbit Room. In it, Lanier Ivester aptly conveys the mixed feelings that most readers encounter whenever they pick up Williams’ works.[…]

    Thank you for an excellent article! I’ve quoted it in my latest review of two of Williams’ works.

  26. Gillian

    I have found C W’s fiction hard to understand at times, although that hasn’t stopped me reading some of his books and enjoying them. I particularly appreciated “War in Heaven” and “The Greater Trumps” among the titles of his that I have read so far. I couldn’t get into “Descent of the Dove” but consider his book on Dante one of the finest on the subject. However, I must admit to reservations about Williams because of his involvement with occult groups, just once or twice when describing evil he seemed to me to be “wallowing” in the minutae of it all. I always wondered how tight his boundaries were between the purely Christian stream of inspiration and those of the “grimoire”. I would like to have been able to ask him who he found more inspiring, St Augustine or Eliphas Levi!! I dearly love C S Lewis and I can understand why Professor Tolkien had deeply help reservations about C W’s character.and influence on Lewis. Many of his friends at the time were uneasy about the relationship Williams had with the young woman who was his secretary at the OUP and with whom he used to carry out highly charged ritual exercises in the London Office – experiments in the use of personal magnetism. So I have never entirely felt comfortable that Williams line of thought was 100% wholesome and that filters through at times into his stories. In all my reading of Lewis I only ever had that feeling that something was a bit “queasy” and that was in some scenes in “That Hideous Strength” which seemed to me quite unlike anything else he had written and that was the book of Lewis’s Williams had greatest input into, by all accounts.
    I have really enjoyed reading your thoughts on this subject, Lanier and all the input of those who have commented and I shall certainly re-read Williams with all I have learned here in mind. I am so enjoying your marvelous blog. Every blessing to you from a reader in Devon, England (not far from the border with your beloved Dorset here, Lanier, and you are right it is definitely the most beautiful and magical of places – I never take it for granted or forget how lucky I am).

  27. Lanier Ivester

    Thanks for your thoughts, Gillian, and for chiming in to the discussion.

    And I have to say that Devon is every bit as beloved to me as Dorset. You are wildly blessed to live there!

  28. Mindy Anders

    Thanks for writing, Lanier. I’ve heard Leanne Payne talk about Williams. I tried to read Descent into Hell and didn’t finish. I still have it. Maybe I will try again. I suppose you’ve read C.S. Lewis’ space trilogy? Parts of your essay reminded me of how I feel about those books. (I adore them.)

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