Published by Mythopoeic Society, this trade paperback has a really cute cover. To those of you who know me I am a friend of the Mythopoeic society the American fan group which has been responsible for keeping the memory of "The Inklings alive since its inception in 1967. Okay I confess that in the last thirteen years I have missed only two of three of their conferences.
The organization has produced far beyond its numbers over the last 33 years. It has held conferences, producing academic journals, and developed a whole new generation of scholars who have made high fantasy a respectable genre, and I might add a very hot marketing category to say the least. The Modern Language association has deigned to index their major publication Mythlore. This is no small honor because it means that as a respectable peer reviewed journal publications in it count towards tenure if you play the academic game.
The Mythopoeic Press which published items like this as a labor of love, and those work for its project do so for the best reason, they believe they are worth doing. This item is limited to a print run of 300 copies so it is in fact a rare book from the start. I read it over the weekend at a science fiction convention where I got a complimentary membership and I could not put the weird little thing down. It is weird because it transports one back to Oxford University press in London in the 20's and 30's This is the world which Charles Williams work is way up from a literary nobody who worked as a proof reader; to an individuals who became a peer of Likes of C.S Lewis, and J.R.R Tolkien. This is a world that might visualize like an old Alfred Hitchcock Movies, like the several we have been watching over the last month. But, it is a world that has almost receded out of living memory-which is a sad thing.
Here is what some of the big names in publishing in the second half of the 20th century have had to say about. From the Inside Flap "Charles Williams's masques are an intellectual frolic. Sometimes they deliver sharp and shrewdly apt comments on the publishing process. Sometimes this merges into a virtuoso display of Williams's own quirks and oddities. They are fun to read, and to imagine being performed before Caesar--also known as Humphrey Milford, Publisher to the august Oxford University Press. As a former London publisher myself I can vouch for the accurate but impish background to the masques. Such events would be hard to imagine occurring within the book-publishing industry today. But then Williams, like all the Inklings, was an original, and caused unexpected things to happen." --Rayner Unwin, former Chairman, George Allen & Unwin Ltd.; publisher of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien -----
"It is good to have, at last, easy access to these remarkable products of Williams's overflowing creative energy, which he placed here at the service of his ideal of congenial and mutually supportive community. The ingenuity and serious playfulness of his masques provide much delight. Selections from the music composed for them and from related occasional verse help round out our experience. An excellent introduction and judicious notes guide us through the topical and personal allusions and offer glimpses into the enigmas of Williams's life." --Charles A. Huttar, Professor Emeritus of English, Hope College; co-editor of The Rhetoric of Vision: Essays on Charles Williams About the Author Of course you would expect that sort of thing from those involved in this items production,
Charles William's (1886-1945) was really interesting in the sense that he was a self made man whose formal education was interrupted but never the less on the basis of his determination and intellectual merit was able to play in the field of power at a time when academic publishing was more than the grist mill for as tenure factory. Williams was also more than a bit of a ladies man but that is yet another story about the shortest lived of" The Inklings"
By the way a Masque is a kind play which the lines between audience and player are blurred indeed. The three plays take a bit of getting used, and some of the jokes take a bit of work to get, but as I read through it I found I just could not put it down. 206 pages with notes and index. Copyright 2000
Phillip Kaveny, Reviewer