T.S. Eliot on Charles Williams

For him there was no frontier between the material and the spiritual world. Had I ever to spend a night in a haunted house, I should have felt secure with Williams in my company; he was somehow protected from evil, and was himself a protection... To him the supernatural was natural, and the natural was also supernatural... Williams' understanding of Evil was profound... He is concerned, not with the Evil of conventional morality and the ordinary manifestations by which we recognize it, but with the essence of Evil; it is therefore Evil which has no power to attract us, for we see it as the repulsive thing it is, and as the despair of the damned from which we recoil…

The deeper things are there just because they belonged to the world he lived in, and he could not have kept them out. For the reader who can appreciate them, there are terrors in the pit of darkness into which he can make us look; but in the end, we are brought nearer to what another modern explorer of the darkness has called ‘the laughter at the heart of things’*.

T.S. Eliot's introduction to All Hallow's Eve (extract)

* Helen M. Luke

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

In her book of the same title, Helen Luke specifically writes that "Eliot does not name that other modern explorer", which would be a very odd thing to say if it were she.

C W Seper said...

Personally, I've always thought that "modern explorer" Eliot was referring to was GK Chesterton and his ending to Orthodoxy.