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."

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

1 comment:

Bruce Charlton said...

Williams was regarded as a holy person by several others as well as Eliot - and somehow this has to be put alongside the selfishly manipulative behaviour of his which is depicted in Letters to Lalage.

I suppose the simple answer is that C.W could not maintain a high level, and frequently lapsed (as most people will do).

I suspect that the problem was made worse because Williams was pursuing a spiritually ambitious path yet lacked a spiritual adviser himself, so that when he became corrupted (as humans do) he did not have anyone to notice and set him back onto the rails.

In the Eastern Orthodox tradition there are stern warnings about attempting advanced spiritual practices without being under obedience to a Holy Father (e.g. a starets as the Russians call it).

Otherwise they say that the spiritual adventurer will almost certainly become subject to demonically-inspired temptations.