Many Dimensions (Paperback)
Many Dimensions was the second of the novels of the supernatural by Charles Williams. The original publisher was Victor Gollancz Ltd. in 1931. Following Williams' death it was republished by Faber & Faber in 1947 in the UK and in 1949 by Pellegrini & Cudahy in the US. In 1952 it was issued in the Penguin Books green-covered Mystery & Crime series.
The novel describes the occult results following acquisition of a stone from the diadem of King Solomon, exploring the themes of time travel, the nature of the universe, and the moral consequences of selfish motivation.
"Nowhere is the intellectual quality of Williams' imagination more apparent than in Many Dimensions", Glen Cavaliero has remarked, but this has contributed to criticism of his performance in this novel. The female characters in his fiction are often unsatisfactorily realised because Williams is more focussed on the ideals they embody than on their personality. They therefore seem, as in the case of Chloe in Many Dimensions, "formulaic and superficial". In other ways too, Aren Roukema has pointed to how far "Williams' tendency to stretch symbolism and allegory to the point of didacticism" disrupts the novel's narrative continuity.
In other respects, aspects of Williams' personal history have contributed to the story. Chloe herself is modelled on Phyllis Jones, his younger colleague at Oxford University Press, with whom he had an unconsummated love affair. This he transmutes into Chloe's otherwise inexplicable dependent relationship with Lord Arglay. Again, many of the esoteric ideas treated in Many Dimensions can be traced back to the earlier period, before he began writing his novels of the supernatural, when Williams' interest in the occult associated him with A. E. Waite's Fellowship of the Rosy Cross. In particular the phrase "the end of desire", used of close association with the Stone in the novel, can be traced to the Fellowship's ritual of attaining the higher self within, in which the adept repeats "I am that which I thought and the end of my desire is with me".
Roukema comments that the word 'end' is given a deliberately double meaning and is understood differently depending on the spiritual development of the characters in the novel. It may mean cessation of desire, or else, as a goal, the fulfilment of desire. But in terms of the mystic union with the Stone that Chloe attains, its special meaning is also awareness of the primordial oneness of Creator and created, so that there is nothing outside that state to which one can become attached. In this way, by offering herself to the Stone, Chloe makes herself the channel through which the Stone can call back and reintegrate the divided Types whose meanings had been misinterpreted by their temporary possessors. ...
The novel's "moral austerity" also derives from the more Eastern understanding in which actions are viewed as flowing from personal disposition, the consequences of which are mitigated neither by a special exercise of Divine Grace nor even Divine judgment. What happens to the characters is the direct and natural result of what their actions have already shown them to be. Cavaliero therefore perceives "the relation between predestination and free will" as being an allied theological theme explored by the book. (wikipedia.org)