Charles Williams had a genius for choosing strange and exciting themes for his novels and making them believable and profoundly suggestive of spiritual truths. The Tarot pack, the ancestor of all playing cards, is first mentioned in history in 1393; the origin of the deck is not known. Tradition has it that the gypsies brought the Tarot from Egypt and that the cards were used for fortune telling. This deck was conceived of as having magical properties, and the most powerful of all the cards were the Magic Arcana or Greater Trumps, twenty-two symbolic pictures whose mysteries have been interpreted and reinterpreted not only by occultists, but also by religious thinkers, psychoanalysts and literary anthropologists. Perhaps the most exquisite of these interpretations is the one contained in this extraordinary novel. In the universe evoked by Charles Williams, sorcery can still kill, and the supernatural must be fought with the supernatural. But beneath the brilliant and imaginative surface is concealed a meticulously thought-out Christian message. Charles Williams-novelist, poet, critic, dramatist and biographer-died in his native England in May, 1945. He had a lively and devoted following there and achieved a considerable reputation as a lecturer on the faculty of Oxford University. T.S. Eliot, Dorothy Sayers and C.S. Lewis were among his distinguished friends and literary sponsors.
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