A little over a year ago I wrote a post here on Charles Williams’ Greater Trumps and the connections that leaped out at me as I read that book through Potter-phile lenses. If you haven’t read that post, please do — and then read Bruce Charlton’s remarkable set of posts on ‘Co-Inherence in Harry Potter’ here and here.
Co-Inherence is not a simple idea to summarize, especially as Charles Williams used it in at least three distinct ways only loosely related: Exchange, Substituted Love, and Romantic Theology (see this site for more on that). For novel readers, Williams’ Descent Into Hell gives a story version of substituted love that is unforgettable, haunting, even inviting. Mr. Charlton, friend of this blog, makes the case that the idea of co-inherence permeates the Hogwarts Saga. He does not argue, however, that Ms. Rowling necessarily read Williams or has this sub-theme directly from him.
He is prudent, certainly, in his decision not to make Michael Ward’s error in focusing on “what the author intended” as much as “what the work reflects.” Ms. Rowling, after all, has to my knowledge never mentioned Charles Williams in her interviews. Without her testimony, proving the link is impossible, and, more important, this kind of intentio auctoris argument distracts from the substance of his fascinating insight to the Potter Tales using the lens of co-inherence.
That being said, the alchemy of Charles Williams’ novels (see Gavin Aschenden’s Charles Williams Alchemy and Integration on that if you have any doubts — and want to really understand co-inherence as a loving theology) as well as the Gothic comedy, genre melange, and probable Ring Composition — more on that soon, I hope — makes the possibility of a notable Williams influence, perhaps mediated through the strong effect everything Williams thought had on C. S. Lewis and his fiction, seem more ‘likely’ to me than ‘unlikely.’
A hat-tip and thank you to Mr. Charlton for re-opening and deftly expanding in scope and substance the discussion of the hermetic elements implicit to Inklings fiction via Williams (if not to the whole Romantic tradition) and Ms. Rowling’s work!