Central Books: PZ3.W67144 Al4
As is always the case whenever I have just read a Charles Williams novel, I finished All Hallows’ Eve for the nth time and felt the need to share it with someone.
Williams’ writing is obscure enough that encountering someone who has read his work is a delight. When I meet someone who adores his work, I have found a kindred spirit. T.S. Eliot, who wrote the introduction to this novel, similarly admired Charles Williams—both the writer and the man.
Williams was a member of the Inklings—the group of Oxford writers, including C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, who regularly met to read and comment upon one anothers’ work. Despite this connection, his work is more akin to Chesterton’s or George MacDonald’s, set in the real world yet surrealistic in atmosphere. While immersed in his novels, I am awed by the immensity of eternity and, paradoxically, the significance of a single soul.
All Hallows’ Eve, though published in 1945 and set after WW2 ended, was written before the war ended and so was set in the near future. Our protagonist, Lester Furnival, has led a rather sheltered existence, spending little time thinking of others. But events unfold that stretch her, that afford her the opportunity to right some old wrongs and become a new person, or it might be more apt to say she becomes more like herself.
As with all of Williams’s novels, Hallows’ protagonist is an otherwise ordinary person who must face a dark power, typically someone seeking power over the material world, and often the metaphysical world, as well. A theme throughout all the novels is the redemptive power of love; it is the sanctity of love—not strength or power—that ultimately defeats evil.
In addition to All Hallows’ Eve, Williams wrote six other novels, four of which can be found at Central: War in Heaven (PR6045.I5 W37 1999), Many Dimensions (PR6045.I5 M3 1993), Shadows of Ecstasy (PR 6045 .I5 S48 1950), and Descent into Hell (PR 6045 .I5 D38 1949), The Place of The Lion (not in the collection), and The Greater Trumps (not in the collection). The UTA collection also contains many other Williams works, including poetry, literary criticism, and theology.
(Originally published in Connections, April 2006)