Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 403
Many Dimensions is one of Williams’ most accessible novels, but it is still challenging. The plot is relatively clear, as is the fact that each character receives the fate his or her nature merits. The book can be complex, even baffling, regarding the Stone’s mechanisms and underlying philosophy. Williams examines the workings of the Stone with the logical rigor of science fiction, from paradoxes of time travel to the social implications of instantaneous travel. Like the Space Trilogy of his friend C. S. Lewis, however, Williams’ work always roots this speculation in theological concerns.
Lord Arglay is writing a book titled Survey of Organic Law, and that is what the novel examines: divine law, incarnated within the Stone itself and all the universe, a combination of living potential and unyielding necessity that cannot be ignored or abused without consequences. Sir Giles sarcastically, but accurately, calls Arglay and Chloe “justice and innocence”; each protects the other and is protected by identification with something more important than the self. As in all of Williams’ novels, those who use power for their own ends are destroyed by it, while those who serve a greater good become their best selves. Many Dimensions ends sadly. Williams does not show Chloe’s post-corporeal reward, as he does for Lester Furnival in All Hallows’ Eve (1945), but the reader must, like Lord Arglay, at least conditionally believe in that reward.
Williams’ prose and play with language are noteworthy. At its worst, his writing is obscure; at its best, it conveys subtle shades of consciousness and spiritual states through innovative and intricate language. Williams renews appreciation of words through paradox and new contexts, forcing the reader to think about phrases that have become stale with use. His characters’ mystical and occult experiences are detailed and convincing.
Williams was a Christian lay theologian and once joined an occult Rosicrucian order; his personal vision of a supernaturally vital world underlies all of his novels. His theology is less explicit here than in most of his other novels, especially the final two, Descent into Hell (1937) and All Hallows’ Eve, but it is implied, especially by the image of Arglay and Chloe as Joseph and Mary. According to Williams, the incarnation of Christ literally makes everyone one body, so that joys and suffering are not individual but inevitably are shared. Similarly, the Stone demonstrates the unity of all creation under God, not metaphorically but literally.
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