the Violet
A Voyage to Arcturus, Gollancz (1963)
A Voyage to Arcturus
by David Lindsay
Publisher: Gollancz, UK
Binding: Hardback
Date of issue: 1963
Reprints: 2nd re-issue 1968; 2nd impression printing April 1971
Cover: Yellow dustjacket. Red cloth.
Publisher’s series: #2 in the Rare Works of Imaginative Fiction series
ISBN: 0575000171
Page count: 248
Blurb: Rare Works of Imaginative Fiction is the general title of a serires of reprints we have undertaken. The word "rare" means that the books, long since out of print and eagerly sought for, are practically unobtainable.

Three are being published simultaneously: The Purple Cloud by M. P. Shiel, A Voyage to Arcturus by David Lindsay, and Medusa by E. H. Visiak. Another batch of three will be issued later this year: it will include M. P. Shiel's The Lord of the Sea.

The Purple Cloud, first published in 1901, is probably Shiel's masterpiece, though The Lord of the Sea runs it very close, not to mention Prince Zaleski. People who like Shiel do more than merely like him: they read and re-read him with utter delight. His admirers include a galaxy of "names": Hugh Walpole ("A flaming genius"); Edward Shanks ("unique imagination"); H. G. Wells, Hubert Bland, Arnold Bennett, etc., etc.

David Lindsay's A Voyage to Arcturus was first published in 1920. Discovered by Robert Lynd when he was "reading" for Methuen, it was a complete "flop": of the small edition printed, 596 copies were sold and 834 "remaindered". But someone must have picked up one of the "remaindered" copies in the middle twenties and begun talking, for by the late twenties a second-hand copy could hardly be got "for love or money". We put out a small reprint in 1964, and shortly afterwards the search for second-hand copies started all over again.

David Lindsay was by no means a great writer (he was rather a musician by temperament), but Blake would have loved him for the sublimity of his often terrifying imagination. It is not too much to say that, though relatively few have read it, A Voyage to Arcturus is one of the most famous "underground" books of the century.

E. H. Visiak's Medusa, though not so famous, is treasured by a small group of cognoscenti, especially for the horrifying Atlantis episode. John Cowper Powys has called it "a tremendous book", and H. E. Bates "a story of which Stevenson wouldn't have been ashamed." And here are two other opinions: "A most remarkable book—product of a mind as resolutely individual and as strange as Blake's" (Walter de la Mare) and "I rate it along with Moby Dick. The terror and horror are tremendous, magnificent." (Eden Phillpotts).

Additional material: E H Visiak, "The Arcturan Shadow"
Variant cover images:
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Full dustjacket
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