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

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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 Eight All Hallows’ Eve: (Cognitive) Empathy

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This chapter is devoted to Williams’s last and, arguably, most mature novel, All Hallows’ Eve (1945). Of particular interest here is the manner in which Williams involves his reader with a vision of a self/soul in life after death or “life-in-death,” as he puts it (8).1 In his Introduction to the novel T. S. Eliot, who juxtaposes Williams’s works with Gilbert Keith Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday (1908), observes:

Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday is an allegory; […]. […] It gives you ideas, rather than feelings. […] His [Williams’s] aim is to make you partake of a kind of experience that he has had, rather than to make you accept some dogmatic belief. This gives him an affinity with writers of an entirely different type of supernatural thriller. (Eliot 2003: xiv, italics orig.)

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