Thursday, November 19, 2020

The Lindsay Event (Glasgow)

So, today was the long-awaited Centenary Seminar in honor of David Lindsay's A VOYAGE TO ARCTURUS (1920). The timing wasn't too bad for an overseas event eight time zones away: 6pm Greenwich time and 10 am out here in the Pacific Northwest.

Dimitra Fimi was host and moderator and did a good job setting things up and then moderating the Q&A at the end. 

Of the three speakers, independent scholar Doug Anderson gave a fact-filled overview of Lindsay's life and writing career --a good thing to have if you're new to Lindsay and for those who know some  helpful for clearing up various mistakes in previous accounts. My favorite new fact I learned: J. R. R. Tolkien owned three copies of A VOYAGE TO ARCTURUS: one of the 1920 original, one of the 1946 reprint just after Lindsay's death, and one from the 1963 edition that more or less marked  the point at which Lindsay's work came to be more widely known.

Novelist Nina Allan, whose THE RIFT contains some Arcturan echoes, discussed Lindsay's legacy to his fellow science fiction writers. I think my major takeaways from this was inherent in the realization of this being the centenary, that VtA came out at a mid-point between the early days of Verne/Wells and the classic era of science fiction in the 1930s.

Finally Professor Rbt Davis compared Lindsay's work with various theological thinkers and schools of thought, particularly Gnosticism. He quoted a v. interesting passage from a letter he'd received from Philip Pullman regarding both what Pullman sees as Gnostic affinities in his work (the evil imposter-god) and his greatest departure therefrom (Pullman's celebration of the natural world as good, not evil).

Quite a lot of interesting material within a short space, well worth watching.

For those who cdn't make the live event, they've put footage of the presentations up on YouTube:

--John R.


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