Spring 1962 • Vol. XXIV No. 2 Department KR: A Section of Briefer Comment |

Mr. White, Mr. Williams, and the Matter of Britain

Among the recurring myths of Western man, adapted by each succeeding age to its own needs and tastes, one of the most persistent is the Arthurian cycle. Two of the more interesting current revivals of this cycle are T. H. White's The Once and Future King and the Arthurian poems by the British poet, novelist, and theologian Charles Williams (1886-1945). Both White and Williams (to say nothing of other writers, like Eliot, who handle the same subject matter more tangentially), despite their differences, show a profound distaste for the modern world, its values, preoccupations, and achievements. Neither White nor Williams says, as many modern thinkers do, that our age is a bad one because it has failed to realize its own ideals; on this score, no age was any better. On the contrary, both say in very different ways that the ideals themselves are all wrong. Neither White nor Williams seems, as do most of the Beats and Angry Young Men, to be complaining nihilistically or out of cosmic

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