'Sybil' from The Greater Trumps (for Joan)

Sybil Coningsby stepped out into the storm and tried to see before her. It was becoming very difficult, and the force of the wind for the moment staggered and even distressed her. She yielded to it a little both in body and mind; she knew well that to the oppositions of the world she could in herself offer no certain opposition. As her body swayed and let itself move aside under the blast, she surrendered herself to the only certain thing that her life had discovered: she adored in this movement also the extreme benevolence of Love. She sank before the wind, but not in impotence; rather as the devotee sinks before the outer manifestations of the God that may be made more wholly one with that which manifests. Delaying as if both she and it might enjoy the exquisite promise of its arrival, it nevertheless promised, and, as always, came. She recovered her balance, swaying easily to each moment's need, and the serene content which it bestowed filled again and satisfied her.

It satisfied, but for no more than the briefest second did she allow herself to remain aware of that. Time to be aware, and to be grateful for that awareness, she enjoyed; literally enjoyed, for both knowledge and thankfulness grew one, and joy was their union, but that union darted out towards a new subject and centre. Darted out and turned in; its occupation was Lothair Coningsby, and Lothair was already within it. It did not choose a new resting-place, but rather ordered its own content, by no greater a movement than the shifting of the accent from one syllable back to the other. So slight a variation as gives the word to any speaker a new meaning gave to this pure satisfaction a new concern.

Charles Williams ~ The Greater Trumps
Chapter Nine ‘Sybil’


Anonymous said...

Thanks, both for the excerpt above and for recommending "Descent into Hell."
I can see what you mean about dense. I had to read the Sybil passage many times over to begin to imagine that I "got" it.

Did Charles Williams influence C.S.Lewis to write his Space Trilogy? It's interesting that both authors reach outside the norm of our existence to describe super-natural images.

I'm going to work on getting a copy of CW's book (might be a while since we just ordered a truck load of homeschool books)but am glad to have the title to look forward to.
Many thanks for your work/play on this blog!
Joan Drennen

Roger R. said...

Hi Joan,

'Descent' is a quite brilliant book and really repays perseverence. I will not spoil it for you, but there are several passages that are imprinted on my memory - I am sure you will find the same too. As in all his novels, it is really about redemption and condemnation.

Williams did influence Jack, but not in the way you suggest. The Space Trilogy arose from a conversation with Tolkien (before either were really well known) when Tollers was to write about 'time' and Jack 'space'.

I have a wonderful recording of Jack speaking of Williams and his work -- I know it can still be obtained. It is part of several talks entitled "C.S. Lewis Speaks His Mind". Very nice to hear the voice behind the books, but not what most people expect.


Roger R.