Read A Voyage to Arcturus by David Lindsay Free Online
Book Title: A Voyage to Arcturus|
The author of the book: David Lindsay
Edition: Canongate Books
Date of issue: March 1st 1995
ISBN 13: 9780862413774
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 820 KB
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Reader ratings: 4.5
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Apparently David Lindsay said once that he would never be famous, but that as long as our civilisation endured, at least one person a year would read him. I think he was probably right. This is not a well-written book, and there is very little character development - but it is full of amazing, larger-than-life ideas, and some of it will stick in your mind for ever. At least it has in mine, and looking at the other reviews I think a fair number of other people felt similarly. When I read Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials earlier this year, I had a feeling that it reminded me of Voyage... and after poking about on Google for a bit, I was interested to find an interview where Pullman said Lindsay was indeed one of the people who had influenced him most. So if you like Pullman, that might be a reason to check this out.
Like Pullman, Lindsay is interested in the really Big Ideas. Who are we, what is the point of life, is there a god, does he care about us? That sort of thing. He presents his very unusual take on it in the form of an allegory, a sort of Pilgrim's Progress on acid. Here's how it starts. The hero arrives on a planet which I think is supposed to be orbiting the star Arcturus, but this is where any pretense at mainstream science-fiction is abandoned. He finds he's grown a tentacle-like thing, which sprouts out of his chest, and is capable of spreading warm, fuzzy feelings towards anyone it touches. If I remember right, it's called a magn (like "magnanimous", I suppose). But if you now think that Lindsay's message is all sweetness and light, you are about as wrong as it's possible to be. Next thing we know, his magn has become a tough third arm, which can reach out towards other people and suck the life from their bodies. And the book's barely got warmed up yet.
It's uneven, and some bits make more sense than others, but no one else has written anything quite like it. And even if you don't agree at all with the ending, it's extremely memorable. Is that what life's really about? Damned if I know. But Lindsay's answer makes at least as much sense as most of the mainstream ones, and it's refreshingly simple.
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Read information about the authorLibrarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.
David Lindsay was a Scottish author now most famous for the philosophical science fiction novel A Voyage to Arcturus.
Lindsay was born into a middle-class Scottish Calvinist family who had moved to London, tho growing up he spent much time in Jedburgh, where his family was from. Altho awarded a university scholarship, he was forced by poverty to enter business, becoming a Lloyd's of London insurance clerk. He was very successful but, after serving in WWI, at age forty, he moved to Cornwall with his young wife, Jacqueline Silver, to become a full-time writer. He published A Voyage to Arcturus in 1920. It sold 596 copies before being remaindered. This extremely strange work was not obviously influenced by anyone, but further reading shows links with other Scottish fantasists (e.g., Geo. MacDonald). It was in its turn a central influence on C. S. Lewis's Out of the Silent Planet.
Lindsay attempted to write more commercially with his next work The Haunted Woman (1922), but this was barely more successful than Voyage. He continued writing novels, including the humorous potboiler The Adventures of Monsieur de Mailly, but after Devil's Tor in 1932 he found publication increasingly difficult and spent much time on his last work The Witch, published posthumously.
He and his wife opened a Brighton boarding house. They did not prosper and their marriage underwent considerable strain. The house was damaged by the first bomb to fall on Brighton in WWII. In his bath at the time, Lindsay never recovered from the shock. His death from infection caused by a tooth abscess was unrelated to the bomb.
A Voyage to Arcturus has been described as the major underground novel of the 20th century. The secret of Lindsay's apparent strangeness lies in his metaphysical assumptions. A gnostic, he viewed the "real" world as an illusion which must be rejected in order to perceive genuine truth. In The Haunted Woman, the two main characters discover a room which exists only some of the time. Together there they see more clearly and express themselves honestly. In The Violet Apple, the fruit is that eaten by Adam and Eve. The description of its effects is a startling, lyrical episode in a novel otherwise concerned with ordinary matters.
Lindsay's austere vision of reality may have been influenced by Scandinavian mythology. After being out of print for decades, his work has become increasingly available. He is now seen as being a major Scottish fantasist of the 20th century, the missing link between George Macdonald and modern writers such as Alasdair Gray who have also used surrealism and magic realism.
Arcturus was produced as a 35mm feature film by William J. Holloway in 1971. It was the first film funded by a National Endowment for the Arts and has recently been re-released.
Harold Bloom has also been interested, even obsessed, with Lindsay's life and career, going as far as to publish The Flight to Lucifer, which he thought of as a Bloomian misprision, an homage and deep revision of Arcturus,/i>. Bloom admits his late-comer imitation is overwhelmed by Lindsay's great original.
A Voyage to Arcturus, 1920
The Haunted Woman, 1922
The Adventures of Monsieur de Mailly, 1926
Devil's Tor, 1932
The Violet Apple & The Witch, 1976
A Christmas Play, 2003
The Strange Genius of David Lindsay: An Appreciation by J. B. Pick, E. H. Visiak & Colin Wilson, 1970
The Life & Works of David Lindsay by Bernard Sellin, 1983
David Lindsay's Vision by David Power, 2005
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