Oh, who is "they," you ask? Only, y'know, the Inklings, in their one jointly authored book. Dig the table of contents, my friends:
1. C.S. Lewis: Preface
2. Dorothy L. Sayers: "'... And Telling you a Story': A Note on The Divine Comedy"
3. J.R.R. Tolkien: "On Fairy-Stories"
4. C.S. Lewis: "On Stories"
5. A.O. Barfield: "Poetic Diction and Legal Fiction"
6. Gervase Mathew: "Marriage and Amour Courtois in Late-Fourteenth-Century England"
7. W.H. Lewis: "The Galleys of France"
[By the way, recent scholarship is doing a lot to rehabilitate W.H. Lewis's reputation. He did suffer from a lifelong battle with alcoholism, as noted in many depictions of his brother's life, but Major Warren Lewis was a pretty good popular historian, the author of a series of explorations of Seventeenth Century France that are quite readable, and whose work is worth a look for any fans of the period.]
Anyway, C.S. Lewis's preface is a delight in introducing what Williams meant to his friends, and tells a great deal about the narrator too. Here's Lewis describing Williams's serene spiritual side compassionating Williams' dour, pessimistic side:
He saw its point of view. All that it said was, on a certain level, so very reasonable. He did not believe that God Himself wanted that frightened, indignant, and voluble creature to be annihilated; or even silenced. If it wanted to carry its hot complaints to the very Throne, even that, he felt, would be a permitted absurdity. For was that not very much what Job had done? It was true, Williams added, that the Divine answer had taken the surprising form of inviting Job to study the hippopotamus and the crocodile. But Job's impatience had been approved. His apparent blasphemies had been accepted. The weight of the divine displeasure had been reserved for the "comforters", the self-appointed advocates on God's side, the people who tried to show that all was well--"the sort of people," he said, immeasurably dropping his lower jaw and fixing me with his eyes--"the sort of people who wrote books on The Problem of Pain."Beyond that great comedic deadpan, and being the best writer to rock a semi-colon I have ever read, Lewis is one of the very few writers about English literature to make me feel, and deplore, my own ignorance of far too much. He makes me want to remedy that, plunging headlong into medieval texts. To the extent I've remedied some of those defects, the credit goes to Lewis, and of course to Jim Earl, who taught me to read the good stuff, and miss the dross.