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Forms and Shadows: A Cognitive-Poetic Reading of Charles Williams’s Fiction


Edited By Andrzej Sławomir Kowalczyk

This book is a cognitive-poetic study of the seven novels of Charles Williams (1886–1945), a British author of spiritual fiction and non-fiction, a poet, playwright and a literary critic. It approaches his multidimensional narratives with reference to cognitive phenomena and mechanisms such as the figure-ground organization, conceptual metaphors, conceptual blending, image schemata, scripts, cognitive narrative frames, narrative spaces, cognitive deixis, and empathy. The methodology not only stresses the role of the reader’s conceptual and emotional involvement in the building of the story-worlds, but also reveals the novels’ polyphonic character.

"This book is a convincing and thought-provoking study of Charles Williams’s fiction, which uncovers the unique, ambiguous senses of his works."

Prof. Grzegorz Maziarczyk,

The John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, Poland

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Chapter Six The Greater Trumps: Narrative Spaces



This chapter discusses The Greater Trumps (1932), the last of Williams’s “earlier” novels, i.e. those published in the early 1930s.1 As Lindop (2015) rightly observes, although at first sight the text may seem to be “little more than a lightweight thriller, […] [it] is “really a work of immense complexity” (195). I intend to focus precisely on this complexity—understood in a conceptual sense—approaching it from the perspective of cognitive poetics. In particular, I will utilize Barbara Dancygier’s (2012) concept of narrative spaces, which is an application of theories of mental spaces and conceptual blending/conceptual integration (Fauconnier 1994; Fauconnier and Turner 2003) to the study of fiction. I further propose to expand the concept with what I call the Author Space (AU-space).2 I will argue that a better awareness of the novel’s conceptual structure allows the reader to recognize how Williams’s philosophical/religious ideas are conveyed and thereby to appreciate the novel’s aesthetic effect.

Theoretical Overview

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