Thursday, December 11, 2014

The lion's share

Currently I'm reading The Place of the Lion by Charles Williams. It's about what happens when animals and other things in the world start to be replaced by their Platonic ideals. Which, you have to admit, isn't an idea every writer explores.

I'm sure there's some gentlemen's club sexism in this. Damaris Tighe, the chief female character, seems created to prove that female intellectuals are more susceptible to arrogance and tunnel vision. This despite Williams being in the same social circle as Dorothy Sayers. (He was also in the Inklings with Tolkien and CS Lewis.)

But you know what? That's all front loaded. You quickly find out about it, then you either go on reading or you don't. I find the book pretty interesting.


susan said...

I'm sad to say I'd never heard of Charles Williams until now, but more than glad you've introduced me. I've long been a fan of CS Lewis, Tolkien, and Dorothy Sayers. The two former authors were both involved in using Platonic ideals in their work. Who could ever forget Aslan, for instance?

Anyhow, I've got the book on my Amazon order list. My two favorite reviews had this to say about 'The Place of the Lion'.

Living manifestations of Platonic archetypes invade the earth (a lion embodies courage, a butterfly beauty, etc.) in this supernatural thriller. The destiny of an uncharitable young woman, neurotically absorbed in her doctoral dissertation, hangs in the balance. This is a great read for anyone, but especially for those who struggle with balancing their intellectual pursuits and "the real world."

The idea that archetypal Ideas could enter our world, consuming their physical shadows (our reality) and threatening humanity's existence, is depicted in the setting of a simple English village. Restoration of balance and order are the salvation of the world -- and keeping balance in my own life became a goal after I read this book.

Ben said...

Ooh, yes. As much of a Christian symbol as Aslan was he was also a Platonic character. I think you could pick out some of those ideas in the Perelandra books too.

I'm glad I interested you in the book. The chief female character does improve in later chapters, although her male counterpart is always the leader. Then again, maybe that's just the quiddity of the work.

That's kind of a nice review you quoted. Good luck to them.