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Descent into Hell (1937)

von Charles Williams

Reihen: Aspects of Power (6)

MitgliederRezensionenBeliebtheitDurchschnittliche BewertungDiskussionen
7121424,466 (3.89)32
The key to Williams' mystically oriented theological thought, Descent into Hell (arguably Williams' greatest novel) is a multidimensional story about human beings who shut themselves up in their own narcissistic projections, so that they are no longer able to love, to 'co-inhere.' The result is a veritable hell.… (mehr)
  1. 00
    Die Seepriesterin von Dion Fortune (paradoxosalpha)
    paradoxosalpha: It could probably be said without too much distortion, that The Sea Priestess is to Fortune's Hermetic outlook what Descent into Hell is to Williams' Christian spiritual reflection.
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I enjoyed this a lot. Williams' novels first ground the reader firmly in this world, then reveal the cosmic significance of the lives and actions of ordinary people. This book, considered his best, involves the residents of Battle Hill - where the veil between this world and the next is very thin. The theme of this story comes from St. Paul - "Bear ye one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ". Not necessarily an easy read, but worth the effort. Recommended. ( )
  MarcHutchison | Jul 11, 2021 |
This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Descent Into Hell
Series: ----------
Author: Charles Williams
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Christian Fiction
Pages: 178
Words: 73.5K

Synopsis:


From Wikipedia

The action takes place in Battle Hill, outside London,[1] amidst the townspeople's staging of a new play by Peter Stanhope. The hill seems to reside at the crux of time, as characters from the past appear, and perhaps at a doorway to the beyond, as characters are alternately summoned Heavenwards or descend into Hell.

Pauline Anstruther, the heroine of the novel, lives in fear of meeting her own doppelgänger, which has appeared to her throughout her life. But Stanhope, in an action central to the author's own theology, takes the burden of her fears upon himself—Williams called this the Doctrine of Substituted Love—and enables Pauline, at long last, to face her true self. Williams drew this idea from the biblical verse, "Ye shall bear one another's burdens"[2]

And so, Stanhope does take the weight, with no surreptitious motive, in the most affecting scene in the novel, and Pauline, liberated, is able to accept truth.

On the other hand, Lawrence Wentworth, a local historian, finding his desire for Adela Hunt to be unrequited, falls in love instead with a spirit form of Adela, which seems to represent a kind of extreme self-love on his part. As he isolates himself more and more with this insubstantial figure, and dreams of descending a silver rope into a dark pit, Wentworth begins the descent into Hell.

The book ends with Wentworth reaching the bottom of the rope and realizing all understanding has been taken from him and that he is truly alone. There is no way for him to climb the rope back up. He is lost.

My Thoughts:

I had to think long and hard about what to write about this book. Unlike the other Williams' book I read, this came across as poetic, mystical bushwah. The closest thing I can accept for poetry is Patricia McKillip's writing. Anything else, I toss it out the door as useless trash.

A poet and playwright forms the bones of this book and I should have known from the get go that it was going to be half-finished sentences, unspoken thoughts, all that kind of garbage that people seem to think is mystical and too wonderful for words.

It also didn't help that I am strongly against some of the theology presented by Williams, namely that Hell is some sort of internalized thingamajig instead of a literal lake of flame and eternal fires and that people can affect events in the past or future directly from their timeline. While God may encompass all of time, we certainly don't and while Hell might be described stylistically, it is most definitely a real place with real utter torment.

Overall, I just waded my through this, wondering if I should read any more by him. I'm hoping to do a buddy-read with one or two people from Librarything in a couple of months on one of Williams' books, but after that, I'm done. Williams puts his mysticism on full display here and I won't be bothering to look anymore. Tell me what you mean as plainly as possible, don't dance around in circles and avoid the point.

★★✬☆☆ ( )
  BookstoogeLT | Mar 3, 2021 |
Ex-lib. Teaneck Public Library ( )
  ME_Dictionary | Mar 19, 2020 |
Charles Williams is so amazing and spooky! No one plays with the themes of life, love and death quite like he does. ( )
  Zaiga | Sep 23, 2019 |
A fascinating, though occasionally obtuse, novel about the relationship between this world and the spirit world, per Williams' mystical theology. I'd recommend this book as insightful and moving, but it does require a slower pace than most novels. ( )
  LauraBee00 | Mar 7, 2018 |
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"It undoubtedly needs", Peter Stanhope said, "a final pulling together, but there's hardly time for that before July, and if you're willing to take it as it is, why----"
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Much difficulty in finding what? in finding it? the it that could be found if he thought of himself more; that was what he had said or she had said, whichever had said that the thing was to be found, as if Adela had said it, Adela in her real self, by no means the self that went with Hugh; no, but the true, the true Adela who was apart and his; for that was the difficulty all the while, that she was truly his, and wouldn't be, but if he thought more of her truly being, and not of her being untruly away, on whatever way, for the way that went away was not the way she truly went, but if they did away with the way she went away, then Hugh could be untrue and she true, then he would know themselves, two, true and two, on the way he was going, and the peace in himself, and the scent of her in him, and the her, meant for him, in him; that was the she he knew, and he must think the more of himself.
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The key to Williams' mystically oriented theological thought, Descent into Hell (arguably Williams' greatest novel) is a multidimensional story about human beings who shut themselves up in their own narcissistic projections, so that they are no longer able to love, to 'co-inhere.' The result is a veritable hell.

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Durchschnitt: (3.89)
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