Thursday, October 29, 2015
The Universal Witch
A Voyage to Arcturus by David Lindsay exerts a powerful effect on its readers. This extraordinary metaphysical fantasy is often seen as the peak of his visionary and literary achievement, even though it was his first book.
His other novels also have their admirers but it has been difficult for them to be read outside of the context of that volcanic work. In some, Lindsay tried (not, thankfully, very successfully) to compromise with the commercial fiction of the day.
But in Wormwood 25 Doug Anderson explains that Lindsay’s last work, The Witch, ought to be regarded as another vast achievement. It has so far been published in an incomplete version. When the full text finally appears, it will be understood as a fitting conclusion to Lindsay’s work:
“the fact that nearly forty years later the full surviving text of The Witch remains unpublished is frustrating to Lindsay readers and scholars. For it is a unique and remarkable book, though it is at the same time flawed and unfinished. It is a masterpiece in conception and partially so in execution.”
The book contains some of Lindsay’s most abstruse but also beautiful prose as he strives to convey spiritual realities through the creaking medium of language, focused on the figure of Urda Noett, a witch whose work is with the universe.
Doug’s regular Late Reviews column in Wormwood is a treasury of information and commentary on some of the rarest, most obscure and strangest books in our field. It is infused by Doug’s shrewd and unflinching assessments; bad books are named as such, overlooked achievements are justly celebrated.
And in this issue he offers us a special edition looking at unpublished books by authors linked together in friendship and affinity – Lindsay, E.H. Visiak, and Colin Wilson.