Wikipedia says, without citation, that C. S. Lewis's novel That Hideous Strength was "heavily influenced by the writing of Lewis's friend and fellow Inkling Charles Williams". I did notice that this novel seems different in style from Lewis's other work that I've read (Narnia, Till We Have Faces, and even the other novels of his Space Trilogy): it's much more grounded and down-to-earth, set in our own modern world, its sci-fi/fantasy elements much less obtrusive into the very setting of the story. But, not having read any Charles Williams, I didn't realise that this style difference was due to influence from another author.

What is the evidence for Charles Williams having influenced That Hideous Strength? Did Lewis explicitly say so, as he did acknowledge influence from Olaf Stapledon in the preface? Is it purely based on analysis of the book by critics? Or is there some other evidence e.g. from contemporaneous Inklings meetings?

1 Answer 1


In his letters, J.R.R. Tolkien says that Williams was an influence on it. (He lamented it; he thought the influence had ruined it.)

Williams' influence actually only appeared with his death: That Hideous Strength, the end of the trilogy, which (good though it is in itself) I think spoiled it.

-- Tolkien's Letters, Letter 257

  • Thanks for this info! I've upvoted, since their fellow Inkling Tolkien is surely one of those most likely to know about Williams's influence on Lewis, but I'd also be interested to know how that effect comes out in That Hideous Strength, whether it can be inferred from the text or the nature of the story.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jun 10, 2020 at 7:14

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