“Et In Sempiternum Pereant”

This week’s weird fiction is from Charles Williams.

He wrote several fantasy novels infused with Christian theology. He was admired by his fellow Inklings J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis. Modern writer Tim Powers is a fan.

He wrote seven novels — none of which I’ve read though I have a couple in the house. This is the only piece of short fiction he wrote. It’s main — and only character — Lord Arglay shows up in Williams’ Many Dreams though I’m told there is little connection.

Review: “Et In Sempiternum Pereant”, Charles Williams, 1935.51nXgQyPhqL

The title translates from Latin as “and may they be forever damned”, and the ending Latin phrase, is from the conclusion of Dante’s Inferno and translates as “and thence we issued forth to see again the stars”.

The story is rather simple in events though their portent is not clear.

The protagonist, seemingly the only human in the story, is Lord Arglay.

He is walking a country road to visit a friend and his collection of unpublished legal opinions of Lord Chancellor Bacon. The road is somewhat strange. Arglay, who prides himself for his good sense of duration (though that was when he was younger — fleeting thoughts about aging figure in the story’s beginning), is puzzled that his sense of time doesn’t match what his watch says. The grove he passes also doesn’t seem to be receding as fast as he expected. Is he just slower now that he’s older?

Then he sees a house in a passage through a hedge. Massive amounts of smoke is pouring from its chimney – though he didn’t see it in the sky earlier. Continue reading

Dreams of Fear

Once upon a time I wouldn’t have bothered reviewing a book of poetry.

If it’s well-done poetry with elegant and compressed language, the reviewer will either leach the power of the language out by wordy restatements of actual verse or devolve into a technical discussion of interest to poets, maybe, but not necessarily poetry readers.

But I’ve violated that principle already.

Review: Dreams of Fear: Poetry of Terror and the Supernatural, eds. S. T. Joshi and Steven J. Mariconda, 2013.Dreams of Fear

First off, some of these poems are about the subject of horror and not horrifying or terrifying

Second, some are little more than memento mori. Well done memento mori but not necessarily terrifying or involving the supernatural.

Third, all the languages represented are, understandably but unfortunately, European. Specifically, Greek, Latin, French, German, and English.

Arranged chronologically by date of the poet’s birth, the collection goes back all the way back in the Western literary tradition to Homer, and we get expected excerpts from Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Hamlet, Dante’s Inferno, and one of the classic bits of supernatural verse – Satan in Hell from Milton’s Paradise Lost.

As you would expect, supernatural verse really took off with the Gothic and Romantic Movements with their love of the frission of terror and the sublime and weird ballads. Continue reading