Book of the Month: From Tragedy to Fictional Hell
Since there are no questions or comments on Act I of The Revenger's Tragedy, we can move on to October's book: Descent Into Hell by Charles Williams. Williams, as I think everyone knows, was a friend of Tolkien and Lewis, and with them he helped both to vitalize Christian fiction and to lend respectability to supernatural tales.
Williams came from a respectable but impoverished family. His father, a free-lance journalist employed also in a family firm, was going blind. Williams was given a scholarship to University College, London, but his inability to pay the fees forced him to leave without a degree. He went to work in publishing, starting out as a proof-reader, and was eventually an editor at Oxford University Press.
Williams' fiction--"supernatural thrillers," as an admiring T.S. Eliot called them--won praise from a variety of writers, and continue to influence practitioners of the genre today. His book-length essay on Church history, The Descent of the Dove, is not so much a work of history as a meditation on what Williams saw as the principal themes of Christianity, particularly on vicarious atonement, which Williams put at the center of Christian belief. Descent into Hell is his greatest fictional treatment of the same theme.
PS, if anyone still wishes to talk about The Revenger's Tragedy, he may comment or query on this post.