the Violet
Philip Pullman on Open Book

Philip Pullman was interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Open Book programme (23rd Jan 2003), and mentioned David Lindsay:

Mariella Frostrup (interviewing): ...Do you think that fantasy writing gets a bad press in this country?

Phillip Pullman: Fantasy writing gets a bad press from me, actually.

Mariella Frostrup: Do you think that’s a knee jerk reaction, a sort of defensive..?

Phillip Pullman: Well it could be. It’s just that I’ve never really developed a taste for fantasy. I’m sure there’s a lot of very good — in fact, I know there’s good fantasy out there, but... It’s good for me when it’s least like fantasy. Fantasy writing for me is good when it’s most like realism. By which I mean psychological realism, emotional realism. That’s when it becomes interesting.

The most interesting fantasies for me are works like Paradise Lost, for example, which I don’t think you’d categorise as fantasy literature, but it’s psychologically very truthful. Very powerful.

A little-known work by the Scottish writer David Lindsay called A Voyage to Arcturus — a sort of early science fiction, published about 1920. An extraordinary book because he uses the methods of science fiction to say truthful and extraordinary things about what it means to be alive. That’s the sort of fantasy I find interesting.