A Voyage to Arcturus

By David Lindsay,

Book cover of A Voyage to Arcturus

Book description

A stunning achievement in speculative fiction, A Voyage to Arcturus has inspired, enchanted, and unsettled readers for decades. It is simultaneously an epic quest across one of the most unusual and brilliantly depicted alien worlds ever conceived, a profoundly moving journey of discovery into the metaphysical heart of the universe,…

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Why read it?

3 authors picked A Voyage to Arcturus as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

With an equal mix of strangeness and enigmatic philosophies, this short novel barely sold a hundred copies when it was first published in 1920, but has since been recognized as a unique work by noted critic Colin Wilson. Once you’ve read it, you’ll find it both hard to categorize and understand, but it sticks to you like the remnants of a drugged-out fever dream. 

The story of a mysterious man named Maskull, who travels to a planet called Tormance, a world both wondrous and strange. Even though it’s written as a travelogue, the sheer originality invokes an atmosphere of hidden,…

Following the adventures of Maskull (My skull?) on Planet Tormance, the reader is pitched into an allegorical journey in search of truth where nothing is quite what it seems. Disillusionment is a matter of course. Self-enlightenment and self-destruction merge, and the Devil even masquerades as God. Surely one of the greatest philosophical novels of the last century, it made me ponder about our place in the universe. The stark ending, focusing on the importance of ‘self’ in defining reality, is curiously disturbing.

In the first half of the 20th Century, before Fantasy was taken over by Tolkien imitators, some very crazy novels were written. My favorite is David Lindsay’s A Voyage to Arcturus, about a man exploring a world where people’s bodies reflect their worldviews—one’s philosophy might require one to grow new eyes, new arms, or even a few tentacles. The characters inhabit a constantly shifting landscape of wild space creatures. The overtly Gnostic message is presented with such clarity and color (several colors unknown on Earth!) that I find it an exhilarating read, even if I disagree with it. The…

From Moro's list on ideological adventure.

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