Charles Williams: The Greater Trumps

Bibliography for Rosicrucian Book Salon
December 4, 2004: The Greater Trumps by Charles Williams

Part 1: Selected Works of Charles Williams

The Seven Novels (annotations adapted from The Charles Williams Society.

 War in Heaven, the first of his novels to be published (in 1930), begins as a detective story (and indeed the investigation of the original murder is going on all through the book). But there turns out to be far more involved than murder - the discovery of the Holy Grail in a country church, the complete disappearance of a London chemist's shop; and the solution of the murder is helped on by Prester John.

 Many Dimensions (1931) also involves the reappearance of a long-lost talisman, this time the Stone of Solomon, which turns out to have extraordinary powers over space and time (but using the latter has unexpected results!), as well as powers of healing. The book's climax is a kind of judicial hearing by the Lord Chief Justice on what should be done with this thing; justice and law are prominent themes in the book - which is also both a thriller and at times a satire, as various parties try to get their hands on the Stone.

 The Place of the Lion (1931) was instrumental in bringing about the friendship between Williams and C. S. Lewis. It starts with the escape of a lioness from captivity and her mysterious disappearance, and involves the Platonic Archetypes come down from the Divine Mind... It also embodies Williams's teachings about the affirming and denying of images.

 The Greater Trumps (1932) has the original set of Tarot cards coming into the possession of an English legal official, with devastating results, of which the threat of a universal snowstorm is only one. Williams's use of symbolism is close to its highest here.

 Shadows of Ecstasy, the first novel to be written (though not published till 1933) deals with an invasion of Europe from Africa and a kind of superman who denies that he is Antichrist, but who looks uncommonly like him.

 Descent into Hell (1937) is perhaps the most difficult of Williams's novels; through it run themes dear to Williams's heart, like poetry and the "Doctrine of Exchange" - as well as the self-destruction of a human soul.

All Hallows' Eve (1945), the last novel Williams ever wrote, opens with what must be one of the creepiest openings of any book, with a young woman wandering alone through the streets of London, and making a discovery which takes even the reader aback. Preface by T.S. Eliot.

  • War in Heaven, Many Dimensions, and Descent into Hell are now available in one volume, A Charles Williams Reader, published in the United States by Eerdmans Publishers ( .
  • The Place of the Lion, The Greater Trumps, Shadows of Ecstasy and All Hallows’ Eve have recently been republished by Regent Publishing of Vancouver, Canada (
  1. Arthurian Poetry:

 Williams, Charles, 1886-1945. Arthurian Poets: Charles Williams. Woodbridge, Suffolk; Rochester, NY: Boydell Press, 1991. Edited and introduced by David Llewellyn Dodds. Includes: Taliessin through Logres and The Region of the Summer Stars together with the earlier cycle, The Advent of Galahad, and some later, unfinished poems.

 ___________. Taliessin through Logres [and] The Region of the Summer Stars, by Charles Williams. And Arthurian Torso, by Charles Williams and C. S. Lewis. Grand Rapids, W. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. 1974. Introd. by Mary McDermott Shideler.

  1. Selected Theology, History, Literary Works:

 Essays Presented to Charles Williams. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1966. Contents: "And telling you a story": a note on The divine comedy, by D. Sayers.--On Fairy-stories, by J. R. R. Tolkien.--On Stories, by C. S. Lewis.--Poetic diction and legal fiction, by A. O. Barfield.--Marriage and Amour courtois in late-fourteenth-century England, by G. Mathew.--The galleys of France, by W. H. Lewis.

 Williams, Charles, 1886-1945. Bacon. Norwood, PA: Norwood Editions, 1978.

 ___________. Collected plays. London, New York: Oxford University Press, 1963.

 ___________. The Descent of the Dove: a history of the Holy Spirit in the Church. Vancouver: Regent Publishing, 1995. Introd. by W. H. Auden.

 ___________. The Detective Fiction Reviews of Charles Williams, 1930-1935. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 2003. Edited by Jared C. Lobdell.

 ___________. The English Poetic Mind. New York: Russell & Russell, 1963.

 ___________. The Figure of Beatrice: a Study in Dante. Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK; Rochester, NY: D.S. Brewer, 1994.

 ___________. The Forgiveness of Sins. Grand Rapids, Mich. : W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1984.

 ___________. He Came Down from Heaven. Grand Rapids, Mich. : W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1984.

 ___________. Henry VII. London : A. Barker, 1937.

 ___________. The Image of the City, and other essays. London: Oxford University Press, 1958. Selected by Anne Ridler, with a critical introduction.

 ___________. James I. Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries Press, 1969.

 ___________. Letters to Lalage: the Letters of Charles Williams to Lois Lang-Sims. Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 1989. With commentary by Lois Lang-Sims; Introduction and notes by Glen Cavaliero.

 ___________. Outlines of Romantic Theology; with which is reprinted, Religion and Love in Dante: the theology of romantic love. Grand Rapids, Mich. : W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1990. Edited and introduced by Alice Mary Hadfield.

 ___________. To Michal from Serge: Letters from Charles Williams to his wife, Florence, 1939-1945. Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 2002. Edited by Roma A. King, Jr.

 A full Charles Williams bibliography may be found among other places, on the Web at

Part 2: Studies on Charles Williams

 Cavaliero, Glen. Charles Williams, Poet of Theology. London: Macmillan, 1983.

 __________. The Supernatural and English Fiction. Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. ISBN: 0192126075.

 The Charles Williams Society Home Page. Website. Accessed December 3, 2004.

 Corbin, Geraldine Anita. Three Visionary Writers: Williams, Castaneda, and Merrill. Thesis (Ph.D.)--Emory University, 1980. 

 Dunning, Stephen M. The Crisis and the Quest: a Kierkegaardian Reading of Charles Williams. Carlisle, Cumbria & Waynesboro,GA: Paternoster Press, 2000. ISBN 0853649855.

Duriez, Colin. The Inklings Handbook : a Comprehensive Guide to the Lives, Thought, and Writings of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, Owen Barfield, and their Friends. St. Louis, MO: Chalice Press, 2001. ISBN: 082721622X. 

 Gigrich, John P. An Immortality for its own Sake ; a Study of the Concept of Poetry in the Writings of Charles Williams. Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 1954.

 Hadfield, Alice Mary.  Charles Williams: an Exploration of his Life and Work. New York: Oxford University Press, 1983. ISBN:0195033116; 0195033124 (pbk.)

 ___________. An Introduction to Charles Williams. London, R. Hale, 1959.

 Hillegas, Mark R, ed. Shadows of Imagination: the Fantasies of C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Charles Williams. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1979. With an afterword on J. R. R. Tolkien's The silmarillion by Peter Kreeft. ISBN 0809308975. 

 Hines, Joyce Rose. Getting Home: a Study of Fantasy and the Spiritual Journey in the Christian Supernatural Novels of CharlesWilliams and George MacDonald. Thesis(Ph.D.)--City University of New York, 1972.

 Howard, Thomas. The Novels of Charles Williams. New York: Oxford University Press, 1983. 

 Huttar, Charles A. Huttar and Peter Schakel, eds. The Rhetoric of Vision: Essays on Charles Williams. Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press; London & Cranbury, NJ: Associated University Presses, 1996. Contains: John Heath-Stubbs -- Introduction / Charles A. Huttar -- The Athanasian Principle in Williams's Use of Images / Stephen Medcalf -- Language and Meaning in the Novels of Charles Williams / Alice E. Davidson -- The Inner Lives of Characters and Readers: Affective Stylistics in Charles Williams's Fiction / Bernadette Lynn Bosky -- Time in the Stone of Suleiman / Verlyn Flieger -- A Metaphysical Epiphany? Charles Williams and the Art of the Ghost Story / Glen Cavaliero -- Charles Williams, a Prophet for Postmodernism: Skepticism and Belief in The Place of the Lion / Cath Filmer-Davies -- Complex Rhetoric for a Simple Universe: Descent into Hell / Judith J. Kollmann -- All Hallows' Eve: The Cessation of Rhetoric and the Redemption of Language / George L. Scheper – The Occult as Rhetoric in the Poetry of Charles Williams / Roma A. King, Jr. -- Coinherent Rhetoric in Taliessin through Logres / Angelika Schneider. Continuity and Change in the Development of Charles Williams's Poetic Style / David Llewellyn Dodds – An Audience in Search of Charles Williams / George Ralph -- Rhetorical Strategies in Charles Williams's Prose Play / John D. Rateliff -- Thomas Cranmer and Charles Williams's Vision of History / Clifford Davidson -- History as Reconciliation: The Rhetoric of The Descent of the Dove and Witchcraft / Robert McColley -- The Theological Rhetoric of Charles Williams: A Peculiar Density / B. L. Horne -- The Caroline Vision and Detective-Fiction Rhetoric: The Evidence of the Reviews / Jared Lobdell -- Poetry, Power, and Glory: Charles Williams's Critical Vision / Diane Tolomeo Edwards. ISBN: 0838753140.

 King, Roma A. The Pattern in the Web:  the Mythical Poetry of Charles Williams. Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 1990. ISBN: 0873384121. 

 Knight, Gareth. The Magical World of the Inklings: J.R.R. Tolkein, C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, Owen Barfield. Longmead, Shaftesbury, Dorset: Element Books, 1990.  ISBN: 1852301694.

 Moorman, Charles. Arthurian Triptych: Mythic Materials in Charles Williams, C. S. Lewis, and T. S. Eliot. New York: Russell &Russell, 1973. ISBN: 0846217163.

 Shideler, Mary McDermott. The Theology of Romantic Love: a Study in the Writings of Charles Williams. New York: Harper, 1962.

 Spencer, Kathleen. Charles Williams. San Bernardino, CA: R. Reginald, Borgo Press, 1987. ISBN 0893709522.

 Urang, Gunnar. Shadows of Heaven: Religion and Fantasy in the Writing of C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and J.R.R. Tolkien. London: SCM Press Ltd, 1971.

 Willard, Thomas. “Acts of the Companions: A.E. Waite's Fellowship of the Rosy Cross and the Novels of Charles Williams,” in Marie Mulvey Roberts and Hugh Ormsby-Lennon, eds. Secret Texts: the Literature of Secret Societies. New York: AMS Press,1995.  AMS studies in cultural history no. 1. Contains: Michael Foot -- 1. Alchemical Art and the Renaissance Emblem / Stanton J. Linden -- 2. Nature's Mystick Book: Renaissance Arcanum into Restoration Cant / Hugh J. Ormsby-Lennon -- 3. Science, Magic and Masonry: Swift's Secret Texts / Marie Mulvey Roberts -- 4. Yeats and the "Unknown Superiors": Swedenborg, Falk and Cagliostro / Marsha Keith Schuchard -- 5. Joel Barlow, Edmund Burke, and Fears of Masonic Conspiracy in 1792 / Carla J. Mulford -- 6. Peacock and the "Philosophical Gas" of the Illuminati / Gary R. Dyer -- 7. Freemasonry, the Brontes, and the Hidden Text of Jane Eyre / Elizabeth Imlay -- 8. The Mystic Impresario: Josephin Peladan, Founder of Le Salon de la Rose+Croix / Ingeborg M. Kohn -- 9. Orlick's Hammers and Pip's Third Degree / William M. Burgan -- 10. Acts of the Companions: A.E. Waite's Fellowship of the Rosy Cross and the Novels of Charles Williams / Thomas Willard -- 11. "Two Circles to Gain and Two Squares to Lose": The Golden Dawn in Popular fiction / Robert A. Gilbert. 12. Kim and the Magic House: Freemasonry and Kipling / Paul Rich -- Afterword / Jonathan Swift.  ISBN 0404642519.

 Wright, Marjorie Evelyn. The Cosmic Kingdom of Myth: a study in the Myth-philosophy of Charles Williams, C. S. Lewis, and J.R. R. Tolkien. Thesis (Ph.D.) - University of Illinois, 1960.

Part 3: Works on the Tarot

A. On the Esoteric Tarot:

 Auger, Emily E. Tarot and Other Meditation Decks: History, Theory, Aesthetics, Typology. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co., 2004. Description: Hundreds of new Tarot decks have been produced in the late twentieth century, many of them based on the structure and images of Arthur Waite and artist Pamela Smith’s Rider-Waite deck (1910). The continuing popularity and influence of the Rider-Waite deck makes it a standard for identifying, categorizing and analyzing contemporary Tarot and other meditation decks. This work of art history analyzes such decks in relation to conventional art styles and movements, including Symbolism, Surrealism, the modernist “grid” and the low/high value hierarchy, and postmodern art movements and concepts such as the dissolution of the modernist value hierarchy, Pattern and Decoration art, and collage. It also examines them in relation to literary concepts, including the novel, utopias, and popular genres. The author’s analysis is supported by numerous illustrations, including the Rider-Waite major arcana cards juxtaposed with examples of their counterparts from more recent decks. Contents: 1. Tarot and Visual Art; 2. Tarot and Literature; 3. Tarot as Tarot.

 Case, Paul Foster. The Tarot: a Key to the Wisdom of the Ages. New York: Macoy Pub. Co., 1975.

 Chaboseau, Jean. Le Tarot; essai d'interprétation selon les principes de l'hermétisme. Paris, Éditions Niclaus, 1946.

 Franklin, Stephen E. Origins of the Tarot Deck: a Study of the Astronomical Substructure of Game and Divining Boards. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 1988.

 Highwater, Jamake. The Language of Vision: Meditations on Myth and Metaphor. New York: Grove Press, 1994.

 Huson, Paul. Mystical Origins of the Tarot: from Ancient Roots to Modern Usage. Rochester, Vt.: Destiny Books, 2004. Description: A profusely illustrated history of the occult nature of the tarot from its origins in ancient Persia. Thoroughly examines the original historical source for each tarot card and how the cards’ divinatory meanings evolved from these symbols. Provides authentic 18th- and 19th-century spreads and divination techniques. Reveals the divinatory meanings of the cards as understood by diviners in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. The origins of the tarot have been lost in the mists of time. Most scholars have guessed that its origins were in China, Egypt, or India. In Mystical Origins of the Tarot, Paul Huson has expertly tracked each symbol of the Minor Arcana to roots in ancient Persia and the Major Arcana Trump card images to the medieval world of mystery, miracle, and morality plays. A number of tarot historians have questioned the use of the tarot as a divination tool prior to the 18th century. But the author demonstrates that the symbolic meanings of the Major Arcana were evident from the time they were first employed in the mid-15th century in the popular divination practice of sortilege. He also reveals how the identities of the court cards in the Minor Arcana were derived from a blend of pagan and medieval sources that strongly influenced their interpretation in tarot divination. Mystical Origins of the Tarot provides a thorough examination of the original historical source for each card and how the cards’ divinatory meanings evolved from these symbols. Huson also provides concise and practical card-reading methods designed by the cartomancers of the 18th and 19th centuries and reveals the origins of the card interpretations promoted by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and A. E. Waite. Contents: The Mamlûk Cards; The Creation of the Court Cards; The Naming of the Court Cards; The Creation of the Tarot Trumps; Tarot in the Sixteenth Century; Further Developments; 1 The Origin of the Suit Signs; Sufis and the Suit Signs; The Four Cardinal Virtues; The Four Castes of Ancient Persia; 2 The Origin of the Trumps; Petrarch’s I Trionfi; Medieval Drama; The Four Last Things; The Tale the Trumps Tell; 3 Of Cartomancy and the Tarot: The Ancient Art of Sortilege; Egyptian Magic and the Book of Thoth; Etteilla’s System; The Kabbala and Éliphas Lévi; The Golden Dawn Attributions; Papus and His “Bohemian” Tarot; 4 The Meanings of the Trump Cards; 5 The Meanings of the Suit Cards; 6 Reading the Tarot; Appendix 1. Historical Tarot Decks; Appendix 2. Where to Buy Your Cards;  Appendix 3. Where to See the Originals

 Hulse, David Allen. New Dimensions for the Cube of Space: the Path of Initiation Revealed by the Tarot upon the Qabalistic Cube. York Beach, ME: S. Weiser, 2000.

 Jorgensen, Danny L. The Esoteric Scene, Cultic Milieu, and Occult Tarot. New York: Garland, 1992.

 Lévi, Eliphas, 1810-1875 (pseud. A.L. Constant). The Book of Splendours: the Inner Mysteries of Qabalism: its Relationship to Freemasonry, Numerology & Tarot. York Beach, ME: S. Weiser, 1984. Appendix by Papus; foreword by R.A. Gilbert.

 Olsen, Christina. The Art of Tarot. New York: Abbeville Press, 1995.

 Papus, 1865-1916 (pseud. Gérard Encause). The Tarot of the Bohemians, Absolute key to occult science; the most ancient book in the world, for the exclusive use of initiates. New York: Arcanum Books, 1958. Translated by A. P. Morton.

 Raine, Kathleen. Yeats, the Tarot, and the Golden Dawn. Dublin: Dolmen Press; Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: distributed by Humanities Press, 1976.

 Tomberg, Valentin. Meditations on the Tarot: a Journey into Christian Hermeticism [by Anonymous]. Amity, NY: Amity House, 1985.

 Townley, Kevin. The Cube of Space: Container of Creation. Boulder, CO: Archive Press; Montreal, QC: Editions Le Chaos, 1993.

 _____________. Meditations on the Cube of Space. Santa Maria, CA: Archer Books, 2003.

 Waite, Arthur Edward. The Pictorial Key to the Tarot: being fragments of a secret tradition under the veil of divination. New Hyde Park, NY: University Books, 1959.

 Uspenskii, P. D. The Symbolism of the Tarot: philosophy of occultism in pictures and numbers. New York: Dover Publications, 1976. [by P. D. Ouspensky] ; translated by A. L. Pogossky.

 Villars, Abbé de (Nicholas-Pierre-Henri), 1635-1673. Le Comte de Gabalis by Abbé Nicholas de Montfaucon de Villars. Quakertown, PA: Philosophical Publishing Co., 1983.


B. The "Debunker School" of Tarot History:

 Decker, Ronald and Thierry Depaulis, and Michael Dummett. A Wicked Pack of Cards: the origins of the occult tarot. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1996. 

 Decker, Ronald and Michael Drummett. A History of the Occult Tarot, 1870-1970. London: Duckworth, 2002. 

 Dummett, Michael A. E. and Sylvia Mann. The Game of Tarot: from Ferrara to Salt Lake City. London: Duckworth, 1980. 

 Dummett, Michael A. E. and John McLeod. A History of Games Played with the Tarot Pack: the Game of Triumphs. Lewiston, NY: E. Mellen Press, 2004.


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