Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Review of Charles Williams's Reviews of Detective Fiction (1930-35) edited by Jared Lobdell



Leo said...

Yes, I think Williams could write very lucidly. But he clearly often chose to be obscure. He is like a musician who could write pieces for easy listening, but preferred other styles.

The question is why did he chose to be hard to read. Were his key ideas hard to express? Did he want to challenge his readers with something hard to comprehend? Is he revealing something from the depths of his soul?

Bruce Charlton said...

@Leo "The question is why did he chose to be hard to read. "

It is a puzzler. Reading his letters, and memoirs about him, there was at least a part of him which wanted to be a successful author and have a wide influence - yet another part of him sabotaged this.

Whatever his positive reasons for obscurity, there s not much doubt that he overdid it; and made it almost impossible to imagine that he ever could be more than an esoteric minority taste.

With CW it is not that he is 'neglected' but that people simply don't enjoy reading him; and often they don't enjoy it because they haven't a clue what is going on or what he is getting-at, and they simply find it boring.

CW in person was the opposite of boring (being charismatic, magnetic, compelling) but in his writing...

Even his clearest and most enjoyable novels - which I think are Place of the Lion and Descent into Hell - are very hard to follow at some points; indeed, hardest to follow at some of the most important points. Often it is difficult to know who is talking, or what is happening or has just happened, or what the characters mean by what they say.