London: Faber and Faber, 1943. First edition. Octavo, original blue cloth, original dust jacket. Clergyman's neat signature, dated October 1943 on free front endpaper. Book is near-fine with only a trace of fading to the edges of blue cloth, excellent dust jacket with mild creasing and toning to spine. A clean, bright copy. Item #290
"WHEREVER ANY LOVE IS, THERE IS EITHER AFFIRMATION OR REJECTION" Rare first edition of Charles Williams's finest book, a masterful expression of the redemptive power of romantic love. Williams saw something quite familiar in Dante and his devotion to Beatrice. "What becomes apparent as one reads The Figure of Beatrice is that, in tracing Dante's career, Williams is describing his own. He, like Dante, is a Christian poet, a devotee of the spiritual potential of courtly love." (Zaleski and Zaleski, The Fellowship). Williams viewed Beatrice Portinari as both a symbol and as a person, a figural representation of what Williams liked to call the "Way of Affirmation" based on the positive force of love. It was Williams who had guided Dorothy Sayers to Dante through The Figure of Beatrice and Sayers acknowledged her debt by dedicating her translation of Dante: "To the Dead Master/Of the Affirmations/Charles Williams." The book was published in the middle of the Second World War: the verso of the title page bears the economy production statement at the bottom of the page. The Figure of Beatrice would not be published in the United States until 1961. An influential tribute to one of the great figures of world literature and a cornerstone of any Dante collection.