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 Post subject: Re: "Descent into Hell" - Charles Williams
PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2018 9:00 pm 
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Some Poor Bibliophile
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Doom wrote:
p.falk wrote:

Some sections of Descent Into Hell are a little confusing.

l


Indeed, I am confused by the part that comes between the front cover and the back cover. Everything else makes complete sense.



Oh, come now. The first paragraph is reasonably straightforward.

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 Post subject: Re: "Descent into Hell" - Charles Williams
PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2018 1:28 pm 
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GKC wrote:
Doom wrote:
p.falk wrote:

Some sections of Descent Into Hell are a little confusing.

l


Indeed, I am confused by the part that comes between the front cover and the back cover. Everything else makes complete sense.



Oh, come now. The first paragraph is reasonably straightforward.


I can be a very demanding reader if I'm not drawn into a story immediately, or close to immediately, at least within the first chapter, it's hard for me to continue. I'm not a big fan of writers like Tom Clancy or Victor Hugo who write 1200 page books in which the first 1100 pages are exposition, followed by the actual story.

Charles Williams and George MacDonald are both authors that I just can't get into. I measure the difficulty of a book by comparing it to the hardest book I've ever tried and failed to read, Moby Dick. With '1' being 'The Cat in the Hat' and 10 being 'Moby Dick' how hard was it for me to try to read 'Descent into Hell'? At least a 7, maybe an 8. Victor Hugo is a 9.

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 Post subject: Re: "Descent into Hell" - Charles Williams
PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2018 3:32 pm 
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Doom wrote:
GKC wrote:
Doom wrote:
p.falk wrote:

Some sections of Descent Into Hell are a little confusing.

l


Indeed, I am confused by the part that comes between the front cover and the back cover. Everything else makes complete sense.



Oh, come now. The first paragraph is reasonably straightforward.


I can be a very demanding reader if I'm not drawn into a story immediately, or close to immediately, at least within the first chapter, it's hard for me to continue. I'm not a big fan of writers like Tom Clancy or Victor Hugo who write 1200 page books in which the first 1100 pages are exposition, followed by the actual story.

Charles Williams and George MacDonald are both authors that I just can't get into. I measure the difficulty of a book by comparing it to the hardest book I've ever tried and failed to read, Moby Dick. With '1' being 'The Cat in the Hat' and 10 being 'Moby Dick' how hard was it for me to try to read 'Descent into Hell'? At least a 7, maybe an 8. Victor Hugo is a 9.



Ok. Read the last two pages. That is an illustration of the title, and a major point of the book.

Facilis descensus Averno.

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 Post subject: Re: "Descent into Hell" - Charles Williams
PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2018 3:36 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: "Descent into Hell" - Charles Williams
PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2018 11:07 pm 
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I'm almost done with the book. Those rambling sections weren't enough to make me put it down. And many times, in the more straight forward dialog between characters some light would be shed on those obscure sections (but not all the time... I have a lot of questions).

But to the theme of the book: Doctrine of Substitute Love... or, willfully carrying another's burden (which can happen actively or passively... as well as allowing people from different eras to carry for each other) - as expressed in this book, how Catholic is it?

I know the idea of offering up your own suffering for others is orthodox... but this seems related but different: carry another's burden. Is that orthodox?

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 Post subject: Re: "Descent into Hell" - Charles Williams
PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2018 7:52 pm 
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p.falk wrote:
I'm almost done with the book. Those rambling sections weren't enough to make me put it down. And many times, in the more straight forward dialog between characters some light would be shed on those obscure sections (but not all the time... I have a lot of questions).

But to the theme of the book: Doctrine of Substitute Love... or, willfully carrying another's burden (which can happen actively or passively... as well as allowing people from different eras to carry for each other) - as expressed in this book, how Catholic is it?

I know the idea of offering up your own suffering for others is orthodox... but this seems related but different: carry another's burden. Is that orthodox?



I'm waiting for someone better positioned to answer this. I'm likely not the one.

It doesn't bother Thomas Howard, a (AFAIK) reasonably orthodox RC. His NOVELS OF CHARLES WILLIAMS is the best of the 4-5 works I have on Williams. (and, BTW, I've not read them or him in 40 years and more). Outside the temporal flow of time that creation is bound to, all times coexist ("In the place of the Omnipotence there is neither before or after; there is only act"), and if one is enjoined to bear another's burdens, perhaps that includes in this way.

But you need more input from closer to home.

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 Post subject: Re: "Descent into Hell" - Charles Williams
PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 3:54 pm 
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I'm going to have to get that book... because I'd like to better understand those obscure sections.

There are some interesting parallels between some themes in this book and CS Lewis's "Till We Have Faces".


When I read Stanhope's explanation of the notion of 'substituted love' or 'carrying another's parcel' I immediately thought of The Fox in 'Till we Have Faces' explaining to Orual how she was able to aid in the redemption of Psyche; specifically regarding the tasks she helped Psyche perform though she was unaware at the time she was even helping her:



Orual “But are these pictures true?”

The Fox “All here’s true.”

Orual “But how could she—did she really—do such things and go to such places—and not . . .? Grandfather, she was all but unscathed. She was almost happy.”

The Fox “Another bore nearly all the anguish.”

Orual “I? Is it possible?”

The Fox “That was one of the true things I used to say to you. Don’t you remember? We’re all limbs and parts of one Whole. Hence, of each other. Men, and gods, flow in and out and mingle.”

Orual “Oh, I give thanks. I bless the gods. Then it was really I——”

The Fox “Who bore the anguish. But she achieved the tasks. Would you rather have had justice?”

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 Post subject: Re: "Descent into Hell" - Charles Williams
PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 4:21 pm 
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p.falk wrote:
I'm going to have to get that book... because I'd like to better understand those obscure sections.

There are some interesting parallels between some themes in this book and CS Lewis's "Till We Have Faces".


When I read Stanhope's explanation of the notion of 'substituted love' or 'carrying another's parcel' I immediately thought of The Fox in 'Till we Have Faces' explaining to Orual how she was able to aid in the redemption of Psyche; specifically regarding the tasks she helped Psyche perform though she was unaware at the time she was even helping her:



Orual “But are these pictures true?”

The Fox “All here’s true.”

Orual “But how could she—did she really—do such things and go to such places—and not . . .? Grandfather, she was all but unscathed. She was almost happy.”

The Fox “Another bore nearly all the anguish.”

Orual “I? Is it possible?”

The Fox “That was one of the true things I used to say to you. Don’t you remember? We’re all limbs and parts of one Whole. Hence, of each other. Men, and gods, flow in and out and mingle.”

Orual “Oh, I give thanks. I bless the gods. Then it was really I——”

The Fox “Who bore the anguish. But she achieved the tasks. Would you rather have had justice?”


Lewis was quite close to Williams. I see the same thing. It is a part of Co-inherence. See http://web.sbu.edu/friedsam/inklings/coinheretance.htm, last 5 paras of first section.

Howard is good.

https://www.amazon.com/Novels-Charles-W ... dpSrc=srch

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Save that the sky grows darker yet
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 Post subject: Re: "Descent into Hell" - Charles Williams
PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2018 1:37 pm 
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Thanks for the links, GKC.

I thought you'd find this amusing:
So the theme of how close we are to other people has been on my mind. In 'Descent Into Hell' you're given the contrast between being so close to another person so as to carry their burden for them (and being willing to allow another to carry yours) and that of Wentworth's rejection of others and slowly (and literally) collapsing in on himself... which is the titular 'Hell'.

Now I'm reading JF Powers "Wheat That Springeth Green". The introduction is written by his daughter and she's contrasting Powers' two novels "Morte D'Urban" and "Wheat That...", she writes:

Quote:
If 'Morte D'Urban' presents the world as temptation, 'Wheat That Springeth Green' presents the rejection of the world as pretty tempting too. Urban is worldly; Joe ('Wheat') wants to be otherworldly As a seminarian and young priest, he affects the life of a contemplative. He's a bit of a fanatic, in fact. But he cannot ignore the conditions around him. Cleanliness matters a little more to him that godliness, while heat - an almost constant presence - exacerbates the problem of dealing with other people.



The parallels between what Wentworth ultimately chose in 'Descent Into Hell' and what Joe struggles with in 'Wheat that Springeth Green' are interesting.

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