An appreciation of the author Colin Wilson (1931-2013) - philosopher, critic, novelist
Colin Wilson World news archive 2004-2014
A new edition of Brandy of the Damned (1964, revised 1967, re-titled Chords and Discords for the USA), Colin Wilson's book on music, is now available from Foruli Classics: 'In this book Wilson navigates a fascinating journey through the world of music, providing insights into Mozart and Beethoven, provocatively tackling what was then the 'modern' music of Schoenberg and Stravinsky, and speculating on the nature and spirit of jazz and many other musical subjects.' Foruli Classics 'brings back into print rare, intriguing and collectible music and popular culture books'.
The new edition of The Glass Cage (see Update below) is now available from Valancourt Books (US $16.99, £7.99 e-book / UK £10.99, £4.81 Kindle). In my 2,500-word introduction, I describe how Colin Wilson reworked the basic themes of his first novel Ritual in the Dark (also reissued by Valancourt) in an attempt, as he said, 'to create a clearer contrast between the psychology of the criminal and the mystic'. Wilson said he wanted to ‘confront the two extremes: the mystic and the criminal: the man whose sense of the goodness and worthwhileness of life is constant and fully conscious, and the man whose self-pity and lack of self-belief have driven him to expressing his vitality in the most negative way he can find’. Wilson felt this made The Glass Cage a more interesting book than Ritual in the Dark. Geoff Ward
Here's the striking art work from Valancourt Books for the forthcoming new edition of Colin Wilson's 1966 metaphysical murder mystery, The Glass Cage, which has a new introduction by Geoff Ward. Valancourt has already reissued five of Wilson's novels (see previous Updates), and his Necessary Doubt (1964), with a new introduction by Colin Stanley, is also due out soon.
The London Fortean Society, on June 26, 2014, which would have been Colin Wilson's 83rd birthday, hosts a talk by Gary Lachman on Wilson's life, philosophy and writings on the occult and paranormal. Lachman will trace Wilson's career, exploring his 'new existentialism', his insights into occult phenomena and his outlook for our future evolution; he will also touch on his personal encounters with Wilson and how Wilson’s ideas have informed his own work. A founding member of the rock group Blondie, Lachman is the author of books on Madame Blavatsky, Hermes Trismegistus and, most recently, Aleister Crowley: Magick, Rock and Roll, and The Wickedest Man in the World.
The Colin Wilson obituary by Colin Stanley is included in the latest edition of New Dawn magazine, the next 'special issue' of which will carry a previously unpublished interview with Colin Wilson by Louis Proud.
An essay by Colin Stanley about Colin Wilson's novel Adrift in Soho has been placed on the London Fictions website.
Colin Wilson’s Existential Literary Criticism: A Guide for Students, by Colin Stanley, is to be published on January 6, 2014, at £12.95, and is no. 23 in the Colin Wilson Studies series.
For nearly sixty years, throughout his long career, Colin Wilson championed existential criticism, asserting that a book should not just be judged by the tenets of literary criticism or theory alone, but also on what it has to say, in particular about the meaning and purpose of existence.
In this study, a companion to his students’ guides to Colin Wilson’s ‘Outsider Cycle’ (Paupers’ Press, 2009) and ‘Occult Trilogy’ (Axis Mundi, 2013), Colin Stanley provides assessments of nine of his subject’s essential book-length studies on existential criticism and bibliographical details for the hundreds of essays and reviews he wrote. Appended to this is Wilson’s groundbreaking essay ‘Existential Criticism’ first published in The Chicago Review in 1959.
It is reported that The Space Vampires, Colin Wilson's 1976 sci-fi novel, is to be adapted for a TV series by the Los Angeles-based Ringleader Studios (The Amityville Horror,The Lost Tapes) which has acquired the rights also for a graphic novel, video game and other media tie-ins. As Wilson fans will know, the novel was filmed by Tobe Hooper as Lifeforce (1985), starring Steve Railsback, Patrick Stewart and Mathilda May. It is proposed to retain the title for the TV series. According to Deadline Hollywood (November 20, 2013), Steve Harris, a former editor of Electronic Gaming Monthly, will be executive producer of the series. Al Zuckerman, of Writers House. negotiated the deal on behalf of Colin and Joy Wilson.
Writer Stuart Holroyd, now 80 and a contemporary of Colin Wilson, has published a 1950s 'literary and love-life memoir', His Dear Time's Waste, available from Amazon and other online book stores. Holroyd looks back to a time when, although known as one of the 'angry young men', he was really more driven by his ambition and his libido, complicating his life with a tendency to fall in love. In the 1950s, Holroyd shared a rented house in Notting Hill, London, with Wilson, other fellow writers John Braine and Bill Hopkins, and journalist Tom Greenwell.
Colin Wilson's introduction to a 'lost' work, The Faces of Evil, is to be published by Paupers’ Press on October 14. In the mid-1970s, New York publishers A&W planned to bring out the book but it never appeared, and the 80-page introduction is all that remains. It was retrieved recently from an archive by Wilson scholar Vaughan Rapatahana who has written a foreword to it. A&W described The Faces of Evil thus: 'One of Britain's foremost authors re-examines man's haunting fear of evil, in mythology and history. Witches, the supernatural, Hitler, Stalin, Rasputin and Richard III are reappraised in an informative, fast-moving essay...' In his introduction, Wilson says it seems to him 'wholly within the bounds of possibility that human beings have released "evil" forces of whose power and persistence they are unaware'. The booklet is number 22 in the Colin Wilson Studies series.
The new edition of Colin Wilson's 1970 novel The God of the Labyrinth, with an introduction by Gary Lachman, is now available from Valancourt Books. See also Update February 2013, below.
The late Paul Newman's autobiography, The Last Musketeer, has been published by Lulu. It is likely to be of interest to Colin Wilson fans and past subscribers to Abraxas and the Colin Wilson Newsletter.
Entries by Nicolas Tredell, a writer on literature, culture and fillm, on all 20 of Colin Wilson's published novels, from Ritual in the Dark (1960) to Spider World: Shadowland (2003) are now available at the online Literary Encyclopedia. This is a subscription site but the opening passage of each entry can be sampled free - Nicolas Tredell is the author of The Novels of Colin Wilson (1982, second edition 2007 as Existence and Evolution: The Novels of Colin Wilson).
A volume comprising Comments on Boredom and Evolutionary Humanism and the New Psychology by Colin Wilson is published by Paupers' Press on May 27 at £7.95 (Colin Wilson Studies No. 21). In two important and previously unpublished essays from the 1970s, Wilson, in the first, responds to an article on boredom published in a US newspaper in 1974 and, in the second, lays the foundations for a new descriptive psychology. Vaughan Rapatahana, in his introduction, concludes: 'Most significantly, Wilson remains ever the optimist - the articles here are suffused in positiveness and both are stimulating - they make sure you cogitate and they force you to ponder further.' Until the end of May, Paupers' Press offering the book at the special price of £6.95.
Colin Stanley's Colin Wilson's 'Occult Trilogy': A Guide for Students comes out on May 31 (published by Axis Mundi at £9.99). Colin Stanley will be at a book-signing event at Watkins Bookshop, Cecil Court, London, on July 18 at 6.30pm where he will give a talk on 'Colin Wilson and the Occult'. The trilogy referred to is Wilson's The Occult (1971), Mysteries: An Investigation into the Occult, the Paranormal and the Supernatural (1978) and Beyond the Occult (1988). Colin Stanley provides an analysis of each book, appending full bibliographical details to facilitate further study. The three books ran to a monumental 1,600 pages and spawned many lesser works.
For those who cannot make the book-signing event, a transcript of the talk will be in the next edition of Pentacle Magazine. Colin Stanley, Wilson's bibliographer and editor of the Paupers' Press 'Colin Wilson Studies' series, has also completed the manuscript of a students' guide to Wilson's existential criticism, for which he is seeking a publisher.
The Colin Wilson Archive at the University of Nottingham makes good progress with nearly 900 items now catalogued.
The new Valancourt editions of The World of Violence and Man Without a Shadow are now available.
See this comment from a recent discoverer of Colin Wilson's The Outsider (1956): http://thewestsiderblog.wordpress.com/2013/03/14/do-judge-a-book-by-its-cover/
New editions of two Colin Wilson novels, Ritual in the Dark (1960) and The Philosopher's Stone (1969), have just been published by Valancourt Books and can be ordered through Amazon. The new edition of Ritual in the Dark, Wilson's first novel, includes his introduction to the 1993 edition. Colin Stanley, Wilson's bibliographer, has written new forewords to both books. Valancourt, which specialises in new editions of rare fiction from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, says it was 'shocked' to find these two novels were out of print. Further Wilson titles to come are Man Without a Shadow (1963), with an introduction by Colin Stanley, The World of Violence (1963), with an introduction by Nicholas Tredell, and God of the Labyrinth, with an introduction by Gary Lachman. It seems likely that Valancourt, based in Kansas City, USA, will be publishing more Wilson titles in the future.
Colin Wilson's appearance on the BBC radio programme 'Desert Island Discs', broadcast on October 21, 1978, has now been made available for download from the BBC website.
As part of the Paupers’ Press 30th anniversary celebrations, Colin Stanley, managing editor, and Adam Daly, author of The Outsider-Writer, will be in conversation at the European Bookshop, 5 Warwick Street, London W1B 5LU (off Regent Street) at 7pm on Thursday, February 7,2013. Topics covered will be Colin Wilson, author of The Outsider (1956), and his connection with Paupers’ Press, and Outsider-Writers Fernando Pessoa, Carlo-Emilio Gadda, and Blaise Cendrars. Adam Daly will also discuss some of his other work, past and present, and his concerns as a writer. After the discussion there will be a question and answer session. Admission is free, and refreshments will be available.
The Colin Wilson World website has received the welcome accolade of being selected by the British Library for addition to its UK Web Archive which contains sites that 'reflect the rich diversity of lives and interests throughout the UK'. The purpose of the archive is to collect, preserve and give permanent access to key UK websites for future generations. Selected websites are considered to be of long-term research value, either in themselves or as part of a Special Collection of themed materials. They are chosen to represent a range of social, political, cultural, religious, scientific or economic activities. The archive - www.webarchive.org.uk - founded in 2004, is free to view.
Colin Stanley, Colin Wilson's bibliographer, is giving a talk on ‘Colin Wilson and the Occult’ for the Atlantis Bookshop at the Cartoonist Pub, 76 Shoe Lane (off Fleet Street), London EC4A 3JB, on the evening of Wednesday, December 12, from 7.30pm. Tickets are £5 and can be had from the Atlantis Bookshop, tel. 020 7405 2120, or e-mail
Vaughan Rapatahana's Philosophical (a)Musings is available at both Lulu and Amazon, subtitled Colin Wilson, Me and the Meaning of Life. This is a collection of Vaughan's many reviews of books by Colin Wilson, plus Vaughan's extrapolations from the ideas of Wilson into the realms of original metaphysical philosophy.
Pauper's Press has a pre-publication offer, at £12 including postage to the UK, of volume one of The Outsider-Writer by Adam Daly, due out on June 18 at £16.95 (volume two will appear in November 2012). Daly says: 'The Outsider-Writer is an attempt to re-launch a marginalized branch of studies that has lain somewhat dormant since Colin Wilson wrote the ‘Outsider-Cycle’ over half a century ago.'
In the first volume of the study, Daly presents lengthy assessments of some of the ‘heavyweights’, including Wilson himself, Albert Camus and John Cowper Powys, plus cameos of several female 'outsider-writers' including Jean Rhys, Ann Quin, Emily Dickinson, Dorothy Richardson, Lucy Swan, Jane Gaskell and Sylvia Plath. Daly's aim is to: 'redress the balance, and in the process shake up the cosy conspiratorial consensus of the academic mainstream, the cultural establishment, and the corporate commercial market, in setting out an intransigently radical agenda for the emancipation of all writers who feel out of step and sympathy with fashionable literary genres, nostrums and tastes...'
A few copies of The Leap by Bill Hopkins (the reprint of the originally titled The Divine and The Decay, 1957), with its introduction by Colin Wilson, are available at £18 each, including post within the UK, from Colin Stanley at Paupers’ Press. The copies are new and unread with only slight rubbing on the dust-jacket spine. Hopkins died in May 2011.
A first edition copy of Adrift in Soho which Colin Wilson presented to John William Sidford, the Collector in-Charge at Leicester Inland Revenue, in September 1961, is finding its way into the newly established Colin Wilson archive at Nottingham University.
Colin dedicated his 1968 autobiography, Voyage to a Beginning, to J W Sidford. Colin describes how, not long after he left school in the late 1940s, the taxman, 'a jolly, fat gentleman', gave him a job, although 'he could see at a glance that I did not want any kind of job, and that I was going to be endless trouble to him'. For the next year, Mr Sidford showed 'astounding patience' with the young Wilson. 'I have never ceased to be grateful to him,' wrote Colin in Voyage to a Beginning.
John Sidford's copy of Adrift in Soho passed to his son Peter, whose son Kev contacted Colin Wilson World to say his father would now like the book to go into a museum or, in view of its popularity, to be sold with the proceeds given to charity. CWW put the Sidfords in touch with Colin Stanley, Colin Wilson's bibliographer, and Peter was happy for the book to go into the Nottingham archive, which was founded by Colin Stanley who said Colin and Joy Wilson were happy with the decision.
It's an interesting sidelight on the new edition of Adrift in Soho published in November 2011 by Five Leaves in its 'Beatniks, Bums and Bohemians' series (see below)
The new edition of Colin Wilson's semi-autobiographical second novel, Adrift in Soho, is now available from Five Leaves Publishing in its New London Editions 'Beatniks, Bums and Bohemians' series (see also News Update November 2010, below).
Also in the series are The Furnished Room , the first novel by Laura Del-Rivo, now 77, a contemporary and friend of Wilson's (see News Update July 2011), and Baron's Court: All Change by Terry Taylor, a cult classic unavailable since a paperback edition in 1965. All three novels were first published in 1961 and reflect the Beat Generation culture which had appeared in England in the previous decade. Adrift in Soho is currently being filmed by Burning Films under director Pablo Behrens, so it looks as if a new lease of life is in store for this early work of Wilson's.
Five Leaves publishes mainly new books, but it has also brought out new editions of 'forgotten' social history and 'London' fiction, and set up New London Editions as a separate imprint. Initial titles were by Alexander Baron and Roland Camberton. Colin Stanley, Colin Wilson's bibliographer, suggested to Five Leaves that Adrift in Soho and The Furnished Room be added to the New London Editions series as a pair.
At the same time, a number of readers had contacted Five Leaves general editor Ross Bradshaw to suggest he publish Baron's Court and he was able to contact Terry Taylor, now 78. It felt appropriate to bring out the three novels again exactly 50 years after first publication in a matching set, hence the apt title of 'Beats, Bums and Bohemians'. The series and the sub-genre it reflects call for a re-appraisal of the literary scene of the 1950s and early 1960s. Five Leaves Publishing: www.fiveleaves.co.uk
Paupers' Press publishes The Sound Barrier: A Study of the Ideas of Colin Wilson by Sidney R Campion, on November 14, 2011. Originally written in 1963 as a sequel to The World of Colin Wilson, Campion’s assessment of the early work of Colin Wilson, including much of the ‘Outsider Cycle’ and the accompanying novels, failed to find a publisher at the time, despite being amended by Wilson and enhanced by quotations from his journals.
Eventually abandoned and forgotten for more than 40 years, Wilson scholars will see the publication of The Sound Barrier as an invaluable addition to Colin Wilson studies concentrating, as it does, on that particularly fruitful and important stage in the author’s career. The title comes from Colin Wilson's journal of 1951 in which he wrote that it seemed around the year 1800 'the life-force decided to experiment with a new model of human being, a model as different from the man of the past as a jet plane is from an old-fashioned bi-plane. These new romantics, these outsiders, certainly travelled faster than the older planes; the trouble is that they were likely to shatter when they hit the sound barrier'.
Campion (1891-1978), author, journalist, barrister, lecturer, schoolmaster, sculptor, was born in Coalville, Leicestershire. From 1940 until retirement in 1957, he was head of the press and broadcast division of the GPO. His publications included Sunlight on the Foothills (1941), Towards the Mountains (1943) and The World of Colin Wilson (1962).
The Sound Barrier appears in a limited edition at a pre-publication price of £11 (including post to UK) and £12.95 after November 14. Cheques payable to Colin Stanley, at Paupers’ Press, 37 Quayside Close, Trent Bridge, Nottingham NG2 3BP, UK, or email firstname.lastname@example.org to pay by PayPal.
A celebration of the establishment of the Colin Wilson Collection at the University of Nottingham took place on Friday, July 15.The archive has been launched through the acquisition of the substantial Wilson collection built up over many years by Colin Stanley, the Nottingham freelance writer and Wilson's bibliographer.
The collection provides comprehensive coverage of Wilson's wide range of writings alongside biographical resources and secondary critical literature. Some archival source material has already been added and it is hoped to build on its strengths in future years.
Caroline Williams, director of research and learning resources, said the collection was a welcome addition to the university's extensive manuscript and published holdings of modern literary figures, represented most strongly in the works of D H Lawrence.
Timing of the event was close to Wilson's 80th birthday on June 26. He was unable to attend due to illness, from which he is recovering, but his son Damon was there.
Colin Stanley said: 'Damon came up from London to represent the family and did so with great aplomb. After some short speeches, I presented him with a copy of Around the Outsider: Essays Presented to Colin Wilson on the Occasion of his 80th Birthday, which he accepted on behalf of his father. Laura Del Rivo was present and provided a tangible link to the Soho scene of the 1950s. There was an impressive exhibition in a nearby reading room consisting of some of the treasures from the collection.'
The event was attended by ten out of the 19 contributors to Around the Outsider, which was published at the end of May, 2011. Colin Stanley said their attendance impressed manuscripts department staff and academics from the university who were surprised so many of the contributors came, knowing Wilson himself would not be there, showing a 'great commitment to Colin Wilson studies'.
To mark Colin Wilson’s 80th birthday on Sunday, June 26, astrologer Laurence Breedon has drawn up Colin’s birth-chart and horoscopic profile which ‘gives an important clue and insight into the author’s highly active drives and inner compulsions’.
Laurence, 61, began reading Colin Wilson in his teens and found him hugely inspirational. ‘He influenced greatly my budding intellect and introduced me via his books to people I came to admire, most importantly G I Gurdjieff,’ said Laurence. ‘I am still a keen follower of Gurdjieff’s ideas. Indeed, I’ve speculated that it should be possible to make a correlation of Gurdjieff’s notions of Essence and Personality and the data of the birth-chart. I’ve not given up on this. It has been an especial pleasure studying Colin’s chart after reading him for so long. I hope I have managed to shed a little light on how his mind works and something about what motivates him. Long may he continue to bring a significant wisdom to this troubled world!’
Laurence, who lives at Leicester – coincidentally, Colin’s birthplace – is not a professional astrologer; he does not do it for a living. Yet he says he does not think of himself as an amateur either – more as someone who is still honing the art of astrological interpretation through studying the charts of friends and well-known people.
‘I’ve had an interest in astrology for 40 years, realising from early on that it was a true lost art whose key, apparently, has yet to be found,’ he said. ‘What I saw it needed was a more precise language and a serviceable intellectual framework. About 15 years ago I found the work of the American thinker and astrologer Marc Edmund Jones (1888-1980), which supplied very much of what had been lacking.’
Robert Cracknell's new book, The Lonely Sense: The Autobiography of a Psychic Detective, just published by Anomalist Books, reactivates the substantial foreword Colin Wilson wrote for Robert's auto-biographical Clues to the Unknown of 1981.
Although retired and living in Cyprus, British-born Robert, 76, still receives requests for help from people around the world seeking an answer to a mystery that's been baffling them - during his long career, he came to be known in the 1980s as 'the UK's Number One Psychic Detective'. In the new book, he tells how he underwent a harrowing childhood, came to terms with his increasing psychic powers, and ended up working with police forces worldwide, using his uncanny abilities to help solve major crimes.
Robert featured in Colin Wilson's 1984 book, The Psychic Detectives, and Robert’s later book, Psychic Reality: Developing Your Natural Abilities (1999), had an introduction by Colin.
Cases in which Robert was involved include the Eddie Kent murder, which he helped to solve, the Genette Tate disappearance, where he provided crucial leads for the police, the Janie Shepard murder, when his psychic abilities made him a suspect, and the Gaby Mearth millionairess kidnapping, which he also assisted in solving. During the Yorkshire Ripper investigation, Robert predicted details of the last murder and its method and the time of Peter Sutcliffe's capture. Robert had earlier taken a journalist to the very street where Sutcliffe lived. In the foreword, Colin says Robert is typical of the Outsider-type, 'the alienated man who has to learn to turn the powers of his development '. And Robert's writing has 'a force and honesty that exerts the hypnotic effect of the Ancient Mariner'.
* The Lonely Sense: The Autobiography of a Psychic Detective is available for UK £11 / US $16.95 from Anomalist Books of San Antonio, Texas (www.anomalistbooks.com), ISBN 1933665513. See also www.robertcracknell.com, Robert's website.
A major publishing event by O Books, Around the Outsider: Essays Presented to Colin Wilson on the Occasion of his 80th Birthday, will mark Colin Wilson's 80th birthday in June 2011 - the tribute will be published on May 27 in the UK and May 16 in the USA.
This landmark book of 345 pages, which collects 20 essays by academics, authors and other key commentators internationally, is edited by freelance writer Colin Stanley, Wilson's bibliographer and the managing editor of Paupers' Press, who edits the series Colin Wilson Studies featuring extended essays on Wilson's work by scholars worldwide. Colin Stanley also provides the preface and two essays for Around the Outsider.
Contributors from the UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand have written on their favourite Wilson book, or one which has special significance for them. The outcome is a diverse and indispensable assessment of Wilson’s writings on philosophy, psychology, literature, criminology, the occult and autobiography over more than 50 years, with critical appraisals of four of his most thought-provoking novels. Five of the contributors are musicians as well as writers.
The line-up includes three professors, Thomas Bertonneau (literature), Stephen Clark (philosophy) and Stanley Krippner (psychology), the author and critic Nicholas Tredell, the author and former editor of the literary magazine Abraxas, Paul Newman, the author Gary Lachman, a founding member of the rock group Blondie who was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 2006, and the author Steve Taylor, a lecturer and researcher in transpersonal psychology.
Other contributing authors include Simon Brighton, Antoni Diller, Chris Nelson, David Power and journalist Geoff Ward, who established and runs the Colin Wilson World website.
The novelist Laura Del Rivo, a contemporary of Wilson, contributes an appendix, as does writer and poet Vaughan Robertson, and author Terry Welbourn with a personal appreciation of Wilson and T C Lethbridge, the archaeologist and psychic investigator. Murray Ewing, of the David Lindsay website at violetapple.org.uk, Philip Coulthard of colinwilsononline.com, and George Poulos complete the list.
Advance orders for can be placed at (£11.99) and at ($17.79).
* Terry Welbourn's biography of T C Lethbridge, The Man Who Saw the Future, which has a foreword by Colin Wilson, is being published by O-Books on May 27, 2011.
Shooting for the movie Adrift in Soho, based on Colin Wilson's 1961 novel (see 2009 News Updates), is now to begin in February 2011. Funding having been secured, pre-production and casting is getting under way.
Director Pablo Behrens plans to use the 1950s Free Cinema movement as an integral part of the story in a 'documentary within a documentary' approach. Free Cinema is regarded as a significant moment in British cinema history - not only is it seen as the re-enlivenment of British documentary in the 1950s but also as heralding the British New Wave in the later years of the decade and the early 1960s.
Tying in with the film, a new edition of Adrift in Soho will be published by Five Leaves Publications next autumn as part of its New London Editions series.
Five Leaves will also be publishing a companion volume, The Furnished Room by Laura Del Rivo, with a new introduction by Colin. Like Adrift in Soho, Laura's 1961 book, set in the bedsitland of Notting Hill and Earls Court, also features a young 'drifter'. It was made into the 1963 Michael Winner film West 11, set in a gloomy Notting Hill and starring Alfred Lynch, Eric Portman and Diana Dors - telling the story of an aimless young man drifting from job to job and becoming involved in a murder plot.
Colin has written the introduction to a new edition of Medusa: A Story of Mystery, the 1929 novel by the English writer E H Visiak, which is to be published next summer by Centipede Press. Visiak was the pen-name of Edward Harold Physick (1878-1972),a poet and literary critic as well as a novelist. Colin collaborated with him on The Strange Genius of David Lindsay (John Baker, 1970) - the Scottish novelist Lindsay was a friend of Physick - and Colin wrote an introduction to E H Visiak: Writer and Mystic
(Paupers Press, 2007) by Anthony Harrison-Barbet.
The film documentary about Colin Wilson, mentioned below under the August 2009 update, is now available from Reality Films. It is entitled Strange is Normal: the Amazing Life of Colin Wilson, and runs to 100 minutes. www.reality-entertainment.com
A major collection of more than 200 books by and about Colin Wilson – about a quarter of them first editions from the UK and the USA – as well as other interesting material, is to go under the hammer at Lay’s Auctions of Penzance, Cornwall, on Tuesday, March 16. The collection, spanning Colin’s entire career to date, is being sold as a single lot by Mrs Carol Knowles-Wint. It belonged to her late husband who, she said, was an “avid fan” of Colin and met him at St Austell in Cornwall on several occasions. Books include first editions of Religion and the Rebel,The Age of Defeat,The Strength to Dream, Ritual in the Dark, Adrift in Soho, Introduction to the New Existentialism and Mysteries.
Other items include a number of books and journals to which Colin has contributed, and correspondence between Colin and Mr Knowles-Wint. Colin, of course, lives in Cornwall and so the auction is expected to generate considerable interest in the county, as well as nationwide and internationally. Lay's catalogue for the auction is available to view on-line.
Paupers’ Press has a special offer for visitors to Colin Wilson World - a new volume of book reviews by Colin, Existential Criticism: Selected Book Reviews, at £12.95 - £2 off the official price - for orders received before publication day, post free to UK addresses. is being published on November 23, 2009. Apart from Colin’s classic study The Craft of the Novel (London: Victor Gollancz, 1975) some of the best examples of his existential criticism are contained in the hundreds of book reviews which have lain forgotten for many years among the pages of such journals as Books & Bookmen, The Literary Review, The London Magazine, John O'London's, The Spectator, The Aylesford Review and others.
The new volume, selected and edited by Colin Stanley, contains a selection of reviews which provide a refreshingly different slant on the life and works of Kingsley Amis, Emily Brontë, E M Forster, Graham Greene, James Joyce, Thomas Mann, Robert Musil, Edgar Allan Poe, George Bernard Shaw, Alexander Trocchi, Oscar Wilde, Henry Williamson and many others.
In his groundbreaking essay, Existential Criticism, written in 1959, Colin argued that: “No art can be judged by purely aesthetic standards, although a painting or a piece of music may appear to give a purely aesthetic pleasure. Aesthetic enjoyment is an intensification of the vital response, and this response forms the basis of all value judgements. The existentialist contends that all values are connected with the problems of human existence, the stature of man, the purpose of life. These values are inherent in all works of art, in addition to their aesthetic values, and are closely connected with them."
This statement provides a clear insight into his motives when selecting, analysing, assessing and reviewing literature, a position he has maintained consistently for more than 50 years.
* Paupers’ Press, 37 Quayside Close, Trent Bridge, Nottingham NG2 3BP. Cheques should be made payable to Colin Stanley. See also Links page.
GEOFF WARD writes: Existential Criticism: Selected Book Reviews is a lively and rewarding selection of about 30 immensely entertaining and insightful articles written by Colin Wilson throughout his career and which exemplify his unique and consistent method.
The standard of value of existential criticism is existence, the opposite of the limiting personality.Wilson rejects Derridean attacks on the “metaphysics of presence” in favour of a humanistic criticism which elucidates an original meaning, or centre, of a novel which can be approached, and sometimes reached, through perceptive reading.
The turn to theory in academia was the revolution, and not the techniques of existential thinking which Wilson said he hoped would become commonplace in England and America when he wrote his seminal essay on existential criticism which appeared in The Chicago Review in the summer of 1959 – this was reprinted, with slight amendments, in his 1965 book, Eagle and Earwig (in fact, Wilson’s first reference to existential criticism came in an article on Aldous Huxley in The London Magazine in 1958).
It is ironic, to say the least, that Wilson, who was probably the first in the 20th century to spell out a literary theory of any kind, should have been swamped by the multi-faceted explosion in literary theorists from the 1970s who failed utterly to take him into account. As an ideas-led critic, rather than a text-led one, Wilson stands in the illustrious line of Sidney, Wordsworth, Coleridge, George Eliot and Henry James, all of whom tackled the big general issues affecting literature which also came to be the concerns of critical theorists in the late decades of the 20th century.
Wilson believes that existentialism is the key to the creative development of literature. While his theory embraces humanistic formalism, it takes it up another notch - to evaluate literature by assessing it in terms of its capacity to satisfy the depths of human need, to clarify the image of "what we are yet to become" on the evolutionary spiral. Wilson wants to know what, fundamentally, an artist is saying, what concepts of human purpose lie in the basic assumptions of the work, and how far the work succeeds in revealing existence as potentiality. Indeed, a deeply demanding form of criticism, but one which is just as relevant in today’s world as when it was originally conceived, if not more so.
A documentary about the life and times of Colin Wilson is being made by the world mysteries author and film-maker Philip Gardiner for release by Reality Films early next year. Philip and writer Dennis Price went to Cornwall recently to interview Colin and his wife Joy at home. Philip said: "In my humble opinion, Colin is one of the last greats in the order of Conan Doyle, Jules Verne, Fleming, and so on, and it was an absolute honour to be allowed into his home and his life. We have not decided on a title yet, although it may include the book title 'Outsider' or 'Occult'."
Publisher Arc Dream is considering a games project involving Colin Wilson's horror creation, the Lloigor. It would be a tabletop pen-and-paper role-playing game, says writer and games designer Kenneth Hite.
A being called the Lloigor was created originally by August Derleth and Mark Schorer in their short story The Lair of the Star Spawn in 1932. Colin borrowed the name for The Return of the Lloigor, in Tales of the Cthulhu, edited by August Derleth, in 1969. This was later revised and published as a separate book, Mythos, in 1974. Colin's beings are quite different from Derleth's, taking the form of vortices of psychic energy originating in the Andromeda galaxy in the distant past, and taking humans as slaves.
Did Jesus visit England? Colin reviews The Missing Years of Jesus: the Greatest Story Never Told by Dennis Price.
A movie is to be made of Colin Wilson's novel Adrift in Soho. It is in development by Burning Films Ltd, whose website says: "In his 1961 novel Colin Wilson captured the essence of the period in a lighthearted, romantic way, which is kept in the script." On July 21, Colin, his daughter Sally, Colin Stanley and film director Pablo Behrens visited Soho for the making of a documentary video aimed at attracting backers for the film. Colin was filmed reading from his novel and reminiscing about his days in Soho.
Fans and scholars will be delighted to know that a Colin Wilson Archive is to be set up at the University of Nottingham, UK. The basis of this is Colin Wilson bibliographer Colin Stanley's own collection of books, articles, magazines, letters, manuscripts and so on, which is due to be handed over at the end of August. This will sit alongside a huge collection of the work of D H Lawrence. It is not yet known when the archive will be in a condition to receive students or visitors, but if anyone has any original Wilson material they would like to add to the archive, they should contact Colin Stanley.
Following publication of Super Consciousness, Colin is giving a talk on the subject of the "peak experience" for Alternatives at St James's Church, Piccadilly, London, on Monday, July 20, at 7pm. His talk will include an instructional section on achieving power consciousness for oneself. Alternatives hosts Monday talks at St James’s Church and weekend workshops in spirituality, creativity, well-being and self development. Since 1982, it has welcomed the most well-known names in the mind/body/spirit world.
A new book by Colin Wilson, Super-Consciousness: the Quest for the Peak Experience, is to be published in the UK by Watkins Publishing on March 15, 2009. Its subject matter is the "peak experience", the increased awareness of life while under the influence of extreme emotions, about which there have been references throughout history, with examples in literature, art and philosophy.
Soon after Colin became aware of this phenomenon in the 1960s, he wondered about its history and how its power could be harnessed, and thus began a 40-year investigation. He ends the book with an instructional section on achieving power consciousness for yourself. During the 1960s, the American psychologist Abraham Maslow took up the study of transcendent or "intensity" experiences, which he termed "peak experiences" and, in subsequent decades
Colin built substantially on Maslow's work to establish a theory for the attainment of an intensified or higher consciousness and the inducement of the "peak experience",
Vaughan Robertson has submitted entertaining reviews of two of Colin's recent books, The Angry Years and Serial Killer Investigations.
Colin Wilson's Outsider Cycle: a guide for students by Colin Stanley (with an Afterword by Colin Wilson) is being published on March 2, 2009.
The Outsider Cycle is the collective label applied to the seven philosophy books, outlining Colin's New Existentialism, which were published between the years 1956 and 1966: The Outsider (1956), Religion and the Rebel (1957), The Age of Defeat (aka ) The Stature of Man (1959), The Strength to Dream: literature and the imagination (1962), Origins of the Sexual Impulse (1963), Beyond the Outsider: the philosophy of the future (1965), Introduction to the New Existentialism (aka ) The New Existentialism (1966).
Any connection between the books went unnoticed by the (mostly) hostile critics of the day until Wilson announced in his Preface to book six that: “These books are closely linked - so closely that it is impossible for any one of them to be understood without the others” (Beyond the Outsider, p.11).
Colin Stanley examines these titles closely, provides an essay on each, assesses the critical appraisal and appends full bibliographical details (extracted from his Colin Wilson, the first fifty years: an existential bibliography,1956-2005) but admits that, because the books themselves are eminently readable, attempts at elucidation can often have the opposite result. For those requiring further clarification, however, Colin himself has written an Afterword, explaining the Outsider Cycle, nearly 45 years on.
Colin has recently completed a sequel to his novel The Space Vampires, published in 1976. He is now seeking a publisher for the new work, both in the UK and USA.
Following the announcement on September 18, 2008, of a three-year study to examine near-death experiences in cardiac arrest patients, a 2003 interview with Colin Wilson, 'Life after death is true', has been added to the Interviews pages. Doctors at 25 UK and US hospitals will study 1,500 survivors to see if people with no heartbeat or brain activity can have "out of body" experiences. The study will be co-ordinated by Southampton University and headed by Dr Sam Parnia. The 2003 interview with Colin followed the findings of neuropsychiatrist Dr Peter Fenwick who revealed that a series of studies of near-death experiences, precognition and the effect of prayer had proved that the human mind existed outside the body, and was capable of surviving death. Dr Fenwick's findings were arrived at in partnership with Dr Parnia.
Colin Stanley, Colin Wilson's bibliographer, is addressing the Lowdham Book Festival in Nottinghamshire on the topic 'Colin Wilson: the Outsider and Beyond' at 4.15pm on Saturday, June 28, 2008. Colin Stanley will extract the ‘essential’ Colin Wilson and explain how Wilson’s optimistic philosophy pervades his work. He will also read Wilson’s seminal essay “Consciousness will change everything”. The event is free. More information from: www.lowdhambookfestival.co.uk
Colin has contributed Will Shakespeare's Hand, an outline of the book he is currently finalising which offers proof that Shakespeare contracted venereal disase as a result of a triangular love affair involving ‘Mr W H’, the person to whom he dedicated the Sonnets, and the ‘Dark Lady’, who is the subject of a number of the Sonnets. As a result, Shakespeare lost his hair, gained weight, and had to go to Bath for the cure...
In writing the book, to be published next year, Colin has collaborated with Donald Hotson, the nephew of one of the greatest Shakespeare scholars of the 20th century, the late Leslie Hotson. "When this book is published, it should be impossible for the most hidebound literary department in the world to ignore its findings," says Colin. The outline formed the basis of Colin's talk at the Stratford-upon-Avon International Festival of Literature on Friday, April 18, 2008, where he brought the controversial ideas into the heartland of Bardolatry. It has been added to the Contributions from Colin section.
A contribution from W A Harbinson who, in his autobiographical work, The Writing Game: Recollections of an Occasional Bestselling Author, recalls Colin Wilson in early 1970s London, has been added to the Views section.
Colin Wilson will be appearing at the Stratford-upon-Avon International Festival of Literature on Friday, April 18, 2008, at 5pm. The venue is the Mercure Shakespeare Hotel.
Eagerly awaited by Colin Wilson scholars and fans, The Death of God and Other Plays, has been published by Paupers' Press in a limited edition of 100 numbered copies. These four previously unpublished plays by Colin, with an introduction by him, are The Death of God, Necessary Doubt, Mysteries, and The Metal Flower Blossom. and were written in the 1950s at the beginning of Colin's career, the former at the request of George Devine, then director of the Royal Court Theatre.
One of Colin's grandchildren, Ralph Wilson, son of Roderick Wilson, Colin's son from his first marriage, has written a short piece about his grandfather.
A two-part interview with Colin Wilson is now available for listeners at Astraea, the online magazine and web radio channel for science, history and philosophy. Presenter Guy Leigh discusses with Colin his autobiography , including his being catapulted to fame, his associations with leading intellectuals of the day, and his lifelong interest in questions of consciousness and the paranormal.
The long-awaited second edition of Colin Stanley's The Work of Colin Wilson: an annotated bibliography and guide is to be published in August, 2006. At 500 pages, it includes: details of all 169 books published by Colin Wilson; 546 of his published articles; 317 book reviews; more than 300 books and articles about his work; 1,500 reviews of his books; lists of his television and radio appearances; and a comprehensive index and chronology. Published to coincide with the 50th anniversary of The Outsider, there will be a numbered edition of the bibliography of just 100 copies.
A new two-part interview with Colin to mark the 50th anniversary of the publication of The Outsider can now be found in the Interviews section, entitled 50 years of The Outsider and Living to be 300.
A new paperback edition of Colin's Mysteries (1978) is now available from publishers Watkins, of London, as a companion title to their edition of The Occult (1971) which they published in 2004.
Colin is to give what might be described as an anniversary talk at the University of Wales, Lampeter, on May 24, 2006, only a few days before the 50th anniversary of publication of The Outsider on May 28. His subject will be "Outsiders and Rebels" and the event is described as a "philosophy colloquium" talk and discussion.
A new book, Colin Wilson: Philosopher of Optimism, by Canadian journalist Brad Spurgeon, is published on May 25, 2006, by Michael Butterworth at £9.99, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the publication of The Outsider.
It is described as a lively, compelling and concise account at the battlefront of the fight against the pessimistic world-view, and a book for anyone who wants to see how they can make a difference simply by the way they perceive the world. The book contains an introduction by Spurgeon, an expanded version of an article of his about Colin which appeared in the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times in August, 2005, and a two-part interview which Spurgeon conducted with Colin at his home in Cornwall in 2005. It also includes three essays by Colin published in 2006: Article for the Big Idea, from Adbusters, the Introduction to Paul Hougham's Gaia Atlas of Mind, Body and Spirit, and Phenomenology as a Mystical Discipline, from Philosophy Now.
Michael Butterworth has also published the 2004 e-book, The Odyssey of a Dogged Optimist (A Defence of Colin Wilson), by Robert Meadley, which is available as a free download. This funny, clever and erudite defence of Colin followed a number of vitriolic national newspaper reviews of his 2004 autobiography, Dreaming to Some Purpose. Meadley disposes of each of the critics in turn while at the same time examining the qualities that make Colin's work so insightful and compelling.
A new edition of Colin's A Criminal History of Mankind, which appeared originally in 1984, is published in the UK by Mercury Books on May 15, 200. It is a fully revised and updated edition which incorporates two new and disturbing developments in crime which have taken place since the book was first published: the rise of the serial killer and the new level of political terrorism epitomised by the attack on the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001. Colin contextualises these developments within the continuation of trends which existed long before the 21st century, while considering issues including Saddam Hussein's Iraq, Islamic militancy, Afghanistan and the Taliban, and the war in Yugoslavia.
Colin has written an introduction to a new book by Geoff Ward, Spirals: the Pattern of Existence, published by Green Magic (www.greenmagicpublishing.com) in the UK in March, 2006, at £9.99, and worldwide in August, 2006. You can read the introduction under Contributions from Colin. It is the first book to reveal the full significance and prevalence of the spiral form in nature and human culture, embracing anthropology, molecular biology, zoology, astronomy, quantum physics, Jungian psychology, earth mysteries, religion, philosophy and the wisdom of the ancients.
Colin has contributed spoken word to the "Mayday! Mayday! The Stan Gooch EP" by the ARC collective, which was released in mid-July (2005).
Colin has written an introduction to a biography of Kenneth Allsop, the late journalist, broadcaster, novelist and naturalist, which is to be published in the Summer, 2005. It is the second edition of Field of Vision: the Broadcast Life of Kenneth Allsop, by Mark Andresen, and will be published by Trafford.
Allsop, author of The Angry Decade (1958), which examined the literature of the 1950s, was a good friend of Colin’s in the Fifties and Sixties, and one of those who gave an extremely favourable review to The Outsider when it was first published. A Fleet Street journalist and one of the first anchormen for BBC current affairs programmes, Allsop committed suicide in 1973. In the year after his death, the Kenneth Allsop Memorial Trust was formed, taking over the charitable administration of the island of Steep Holm in the Bristol Channel, a designated nature reserve and a site of special scientific interest.
If the lost city of Atlantis had indeed been found on the seabed off Cyprus, it proved that civilisation was much older than we thought, Colin told viewers on Channel 4’s Richard & Judy TV show on Wednesday (November 17).
Colin appeared with American author Robert Sarmast who announced last weekend that his undersea exploration had discovered structures closely resembling Plato’s description of Atlantis.
Colin said that Sarmast’s discovery was likely to show that civilisation existed much further back than 8,000BC, the date it was supposed to have arisen in the Middle East. The Atlanteans would have had an extremely high level of culture, “with probably all kinds of things we can’t begin to imagine”.
The Ancient Egyptian civilisation must have been founded on knowledge handed down by Atlantean flood survivors as it was too complex to have started from scratch in about 3,000BC, and must have had a much longer history.
Colin then managed to toss in a squib about how there was probably a lot of gold waiting to be found in Atlantis - will there now be a gold rush to the Eastern Mediterranean, we wonder?
After the show, Colin said: “My initial response to Sarmast’s theory that Atlantis was Cyprus was that it was unlikely, since Plato says that Atlantis was beyond the Pillars of Hercules (ie, Straits of Gibraltar), and it has always been assumed to be in the Atlantic Ocean, hence its name. But when Professor Galanapoulos came up with his theory that Atlantis was the island of Santorini in the early 1960s, he pointed out that the two small capes of southern Greece, Maleas and Matapan (Taenarum), were also called the Pillars of Hercules, and Sarmast points out that so was the entrance into the Bosphorus. So, for someone in Greece, Cyprus would be beyond the Pillars of Hercules - but to the east, not west.
“Although Rand Flem’Ath’s Antarctica theory of Atlantis seemed to me highly plausible, there was one major problem - that Plato says the Atlanteans were at war with the Athenians, and this was unlikely if Atlantis was thousands of miles away at the South Pole, or even if it was in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, as mapped by Athanasius Kircher, the learned Jesuit. There was also, of course, the problem of size. Plato said Atlantis was a huge land mass, a continent. But would a whole continent be able to disappear completely (in "a day and a night")? Surely not.
“Galanapoulos had suggested the copyists of the Timaeus had simply added a nought too many to the figures, by mistaking two Egyptian hieroglyphics for 100 and 1,000, making the great plain to the south 270 miles by 300, instead of 27 by 30. And this same argument also applied to Cyprus. I agree that it seems unlikely that the Atlanteans and Athenians could have been at war when, according to Plato, the Egyptian priests told Solon that it had sunk about 9,000 years before their time, when Athens was certainly not around.
“But then, I had come to accept Graham Hancock’s arguments, in Fingerprints of the Gods, that civilisation is probably many thousands of years older than we believe, so that Tiahuanaco in the Andes could date back to 15,000 BC. And I now think it likely that civilisation may be far older than that, for reasons I explain in my autobiography (speaking of Maurice Chatelain). So it does seem to me conceivable that if Atlantis was Cyprus, there was some kind of war with proto-Greeks.
“The whole theory depends, of course, on the notion that the Mediterranean formed after the end of the last Ice Age, as the ice began to melt, and the barrier between the Atlantic and the landlocked area created by the collision of Europe and Africa, fell. I, like most people, had taken it for granted that this happened maybe five million years ago. But we have no evidence for this, since mud and silt cannot be carbon dated, so there is no good reason why the Med may not have appeared as recently as 13,000 years ago.
“We now know the Black Sea formed only about 6,000BC, and if the Med has been around for millions of years, why is the Black Sea so much younger? Above all, Sarmast’s discovery of a plain of exactly the right size - 27 by 30 miles - and a ’temple hill’ with walls in exactly the right place, six kilometres from the sea, makes it look as if most of the arguments against Atlantis being in the Med are irrelevant.”
A new book, The Voynich Manuscript, by Gerry Kennedy and Rob Churchill (published August 5, 2004, by Orion) discusses the “mix of fantasy and reality in the literary worlds” of Colin Wilson and H P Lovecraft, the New England horror story writer. The Voynich manuscript, discovered by antiquarian book dealer Wilfrid Voynich in an Italian monastery in 1912, is believed to date from the 16th century, but is written in an unrecognisable language, and remains an enigma. It has never been deciphered, and continues to defy linguists, cryptologists and scholars.
Kennedy and Churchill say that although Lovecraft does not mention the Voynich manuscript, he must have been aware of it, for Lovecraft invented a supposedly arcane opus of the eighth century, The Necronomicon, which one of his heroes finds in a deserted church - “a small leather-bound record book filled with entries in some odd cryptographic medium”.
The Necronomicon has become intertwined with the Voynich manuscript, say the co-authors, appearing in two works by Colin, The Return of the Lloigor (1969, 1974) and The Philosopher’s Stone (1969). In the former, a professor of English discovers a volume written in an Arabic based on Greek and Latin, and realises it is The Necronomicon. In the latter, Howard Lester and Sir Henry Littleway fall under the spell of the Great Old Ones and try to break it by studying The Necronomicon.