Literary Analysis Book Review

The Lament of Prometheus: An Examination of David Lindsay's A Voyage to Arcturus

by John C. Wright
Reviewed date: 2023 Jan 6
163 pages
cover art

After reading A Voyage to Arcturus by David Lindsay, I read this analysis because I hoped to get a better insight into why some people are captivated by what is clearly (to me) a bad book. Wright's long essay explains a lot of the symbolism in the book and the philosophy behind it. Now armed with a better understanding, I say Lindsay has written something complex and overflowing with deep philosophical meaning. However, what he has written is not valuable, nor did he do it well.

A Voyage to Arcturus is overly complex, obtuse, and when deciphered is uninspiring.

Wright puts it this way:

The book is wrongheaded because the philosophy it portrays is merely an expression of the contempt that an intellectual from a spiritually-exhausted postwar Europe has for common men and their common traditions. The leitmotif of this book is contempt for life and love and heaven: in effect contempt for the reader.

Yes, I did feel a contempt. That's a great way to put it.

And what's more:

In all his struggles with the mystical forces and deceptions of Tormance, the idea Maskull-Nightspore never (with one small exception) meets, the one philosophy he never sees dismissed or even hears discussed, is the one David Lindsay learned at his mother's knee or in the Sunday School of Scotland.

Yeah! You tell him, Wright!

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