Charles Williams has always been one of the more overlooked members of the Inklings, and the continued neglect of his poetry and “supernatural thrillers” suggests that he is not likely to experience a dramatic increase in popularity anytime soon. Similarly, Russell Kirk is an American historian who will always be better known for writing The Conservative Mind in 1953 than for any of the dozens of short stories and novels he wrote, many of which deal with ghostly or supernatural themes. In fact, Kirk acknowledged Williams to be an important influence on his fiction; this influence is perhaps most evident in Kirk’s final novel, 1979’s Lord of the Hollow Dark.
In this “Gothick romance,” as Kirk described it, a group of pilgrims gathers at a dilapidated mansion in Scotland, at which various satanic rituals are performed in the week leading up to Ash Wednesday. The novel features ghostly apparitions, psychological and spiritual horror, and a mingling of the supernatural and material, all of which calls to mind Williams’ first, unforgettable novel, War in Heaven. The neglect of both authors has led to a lack of interest in the obvious thematic links between these two books, which this paper is intended to address. Aside from these links, I shall also discuss how the authors’ respective religious views contribute to their differing approaches to certain subjects, such as time and the nature of Hell.
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