Charles Williams and C.S. Lewis: The Influence of Descent into Hell
In November, 2012 I had the pleasure of giving a talk in Madison, WI for a conference called “The 10 Books that Most Influenced C.S. Lewis,” hosted by the C.S. Lewis Society of Madison The theme came from a list that Lewis had provided for The Christian Century in 1962, of the books that had most influenced him. The books were as follows:
1. Phantastes by George MacDonald.
2.The Everlasting Man by G. K. Chesterton.
3. The Aeneid by Virgil.
4. The Temple by George Herbert.
5. The Prelude by William Wordsworth.
6. The Idea of the Holy by Rudolf Otto.
7. The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius.
8. Life of Samuel Johnson by James Boswell.
9. Descent into Hell by Charles Williams.
10. Theism and Humanism by Arthur James Balfour.
At the conference, each of the speakers addressed one of these books; mine was Charles Williams’ Descent into Hell.
Incidentally, a lot of the discussion amongst the various speakers had to do with the selection criteria. Were these books that all influenced him personally? in his writing? were they books that Lewis thought worth recommending? We concluded that we did not know!
Here is the recording of my lecture.
I hope you find it interesting, and I highly recommend reading Charles Williams’ Descent into Hell. (And Lewis’s Ransom Trilogy, of course!)
Dr. Holly Ordway is a poet, academic, and Christian apologist. She is the chair of the Department of Apologetics and director of the MA in Cultural Apologetics at Houston Baptist University, and the author of Not God’s Type: A Rational Academic Finds a Radical Faith. Her work focuses on imaginative and literary apologetics, with special attention to C.S. Lewis and Charles Williams.