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David Lindsay (novelist)

David Lindsay
Born 3 March 1876
Lewisham, England
Died 16 July 1945(1945-07-16) (aged 69)
Hove, England
Occupation Insurance Clerk, Writer

David Lindsay (3 March 1876 – 16 July 1945)[1] was a Scottish author now best remembered for the philosophical science fiction novel A Voyage to Arcturus (1920).


  • Biography 1
  • Work 2
  • Bibliography 3
  • Notes and references 4
  • External links 5


Lindsay was born into a middle-class Scottish Calvinist family in London, and was brought up partly in Jedburgh, where he had family background. He was educated at Colfe's School, Lewisham,[2] and won a scholarship to university, but for financial reasons went into business, becoming an insurance clerk at Lloyd's of London.[3] He was successful, but his career was interrupted by service in the World War I, at the age of 40. He first joined the Grenadier Guards, then the Royal Army Pay Corps, where he was promoted to Corporal.

After the war Lindsay moved to

External links

  • Galad Elflandsson "David Lindsay and the Quest for Muspel-Fire" in Darrell Schweitzer (ed) Discovering Classic Fantasy Fiction, Gillette NJ: Wildside Press, 1986, pp. 104–112.
  • The Strange Genius of David Lindsay: An Appreciation (1970) by J. B. Pick, E. H. Visiak and Colin Wilson
  • The Life and Works of David Lindsay (1983) by Bernard Sellin
  • David Lindsay's Vision by David Power (2005)
  • David Lindsay by Gary K. Wolfe (Wildside Press LLC, 1982) ISBN 0-916732-26-6
  1. ^ David Lindsay's birthdate & place – The Life and Works of David Lindsay – the Violet
  2. ^ Old Colfeians, Colfe's School website
  3. ^ a b c "David Lindsay" by Gary K. Wolfe, in E. F. Bleiler, ed. Supernatural Fiction Writers:Fantasy and Horror. New York: Scribner's, 1985. pp.541–548.
  4. ^ Kathryn Lindskoog – A Voyage to Arcturus, C. S. Lewis, and The Dark Tower
  5. ^ The Top Ten Books That Influenced J.R.R. Tolkien
  6. ^ Darrell Schweitzer, "A Voyage to Arcturus by David Lindsay" in Gary Westfahl, ed. The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy: Themes, Works, and Wonders. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2005. (p. 1329-1331).
  7. ^ The Adventures of Monsieur de Mailly/A Blade for Sale

Notes and references

  • A Voyage to Arcturus (1920)
  • The Haunted Woman (1922)
  • Sphinx (1923)
  • Adventures of Monsieur de Mailly (1926) [UK]; A Blade for Sale (1927) [US][7]
  • Devil's Tor (1932)
  • The Violet Apple and The Witch (1976)
  • A Christmas Play (2003)


Lindsay's austere vision of "true reality" seems to have been influenced by Alasdair Gray who have also used surrealism and magic realism in their work. In 1971, Arcturus was produced as a 35mm feature film by William J. Holloway. It was the first film to be funded by a National Endowment for the Arts grant and has recently been re-released. Harold Bloom has also taken an interest in Lindsay's life and career, going so far as to publish a novel, The Flight to Lucifer, which he thought of as a Bloomian misprision, an homage and deep revision of A Voyage to Arcturus. Bloom, however, has conceded that his late-comer imitation is overwhelmed by Lindsay's great original.

A Voyage to Arcturus has been described as the major "underground" novel of the 20th century. The secret of Lindsay's apparent originality as a novelist lies in his metaphysical assumptions.[6] Like the gnostics he seems to have 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 seems to exist only some of the time; while they are there together, they can see more clearly and express themselves honestly. In The Violet Apple, the fruit of the title is of the species eaten by Adam and Eve, and Lindsay's description of its effects is a startling, lyrical episode in a novel which is otherwise concerned with rather ordinary matters.


He and his wife opened a boarding house in Brighton, but they did not prosper and their marriage underwent considerable strain. The house was damaged by the first bomb to fall on Brighton in the World War II and Lindsay, who was in his bath at the time, never recovered from the shock. His death from an infection resulting from an abscess in his tooth was unrelated to the bomb.

Lindsay attempted to write a more commercial novel with his next work The Haunted Woman (1922), but this was barely more successful than the Voyage.[3] He continued to write novels, including the humorous potboiler The Adventures of Monsieur de Mailly, but after Devil's Tor in 1932 he found it increasingly difficult to get his work issued, and spent much of his time on his last work The Witch which was not published in his lifetime.

[5] said he read the book "with avidity", and praised it as a work of philosophy, religion, and morality.J. R. R. Tolkien Also, [4].Out of the Silent Planet's C. S. Lewis and it was in its turn a central influence on [3]

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