A Voyage to Arcturus by David Lindsay

Two rings surrounding a person on a purple background.  Two open white pages on an orange background.  A black background with a white W.  A black background with a white symbol, that has a black play symbol in the middle.  A black background with a white tentacled cat.

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A Voyage to Arcturus is a novel by David Lindsay, published in 1920. It was an influence on C. S. Lewis, for whom it served as an inspiration for the Space Trilogy. Via Lewis, it was also an influence on J. R. R. Tolkien. Apart from them, Clive Barker as referred to A Voyage to Arcturus as a masterpiece, while the philosopher Colin Wilson called it “the greatest novel of the 20th century”. At least some of the praise likely stems from the complexity of the novel. A intricate mix of fantasy, philosophy, and science fiction, A Voyage to Arcturus tackles complex issues such as good, evil, and existence itself.

Throughout the story, the main character, Maskull, goes through many different regions on the planet Tormance, a fictional planet that orbits around Arcturus, a star. Maskull is, like many people, searching for the meaning of life. His travels through Tormance introduce him to different belief systems and mind states.

As is the case with several classics, A Voyage to Arcturus did not sell particularly well during Lindsay’s own time. Even to get it published, Lindsay had to reduce his work by 15,000 words (which are now thought to be permanently lost). Out of the printing of 1,430 copies, only 596 sold. Through later printings, the book eventually gained in popularity and influence.

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