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A Voyage to Arcturus — What's It All About?

Some attempts to sum up what Lindsay was trying to say in A Voyage to Arcturus, in one line:

J B Pick

"Maskull's adventures are a symbolic account of men's experience in the world."

The Great Shadow House
Colin Wilson

[Lindsay] "believes that all human beings are stuck on a fly paper of delusions, and the glue is mixed with sugar — pleasure...it is only through pain...that man glimpses the 'sublime' of which he is capable, and which is his true element... Everything on Arcturus is the creation of the Devil. And Maskull will have to learn this, step by step."

— "Lindsay as Novelist and Mystic", The Strange Genius of David Lindsay
Harold Bloom

[The story is a] "remorseless drive to death, beyond the pleasure/pain principle... It is that singular kind of nightmare...in which you encounter a series of terrifying faces, and only gradually do you come to realise that these faces are terrified, and that you are the cause of the terror."

Agon, p. 208, 215
Alan Moore

"If A Voyage to Arcturus is less a novel than it is private kabbalah, then we must assume that it maps both the inner and the outer Universe, that it at once describes the clashing forces of the cosmos as perceived by Lindsay, and the equally tumultuous opposing powers defining his interior landscape."

— "Prism and Pentecost: David Lindsay and the British Apocalypse", A Voyage to Arcturus (Savoy Books), p.xvi
Gary K Wolfe

"Lindsay believed that forms of natural appearance are all illusory; matter is only permanent in the perceived world, and matter is only Will perceived."

David Lindsay: Starmont Reader's Guide
Philip Pullman

"Maskull seems to be seeking enlightenment, but it isn't just a story about the quest for wisdom: it would be far duller if it were. It's riven with passion and violence, and haunted by mystery."

Loren Eiseley

"This is not a common story of adventure. Rather, it is a story of the most dangerous journey in the world, the journey into the self and beyond the self."

— Introduction, A Voyage to Arcturus (Macmillan, Ballantine editions)
© Murray Ewing 2017