Page 7, 29th May 1981

29th May 1981
Page 7
Page 7, 29th May 1981 — Important dreadful fantasia

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Organisations: Cambridge University


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Important dreadful fantasia

The Life and Works of David Lindsay by Bernard SelIin, translated by Kenneth Gunnell (Cambridge University Press, £17.50).

DAVID Lindsay was a dreadfully poor writer. That much is agreed. As Colin Wilson says in his foreword! "Professor SeIlin, like a gifted archaeologist, has sifted through the rubble and brought the fragments together.

This technique, as at Knossos, tends to produce more and better than the original. But Lindsay is worth grubbing about in. His A Voyage to Arcturus has an extraordinarily strong mythopoeic (though the authors of this book prefer the word fantasy) element. But like Goerge Macdonald he spoils it all by silly thoughts and blundering prose.

Myth-making appeals to the present generation. The late Professor Tolkien's fictions suffer to a lesser extent from the problems of form.

Professor SeIlin unfortunately writes like a wombat with a PhD. "Themes of the Fall and defeat are so clearly the dominant features of the inter-War English novel. The names of D. H. Lawrence, Graham Greene. Evelyn Waugh. Bernard Shaw and many others can be cited in this context," Cite on. man,

Or try discussing this sententia: "The interest of a book has never been in proportion to the number of its pages."

David Lindsay is heading for a revival. It may end in the cinema or on the wireless. media even less apt for conveying myth than his own dire prose.

David Lindsay was not a philosopher and his unpublished philosophical notebooks are best left as such. But he will become widely known. Literature needs a lifegiving injection and mythmaking could .provide it.

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