Colin Wilson (1931 – 2013)

Colin Wilson, the prolific and eccentric writer on occult and other matters has died.

At age 24, a precocious Wilson penned The Outsider (1956), a reimagining of classic existential-oriented literature and arts that made a big splash. It’s a decent book, well written, and certainly one of the first books to look at modern literature through the lens of existentialist philosophy. Wilson espoused a “theory of the new existentialism”:

Colin Wilson, the writer, who has died 82, suspected he was a genius; and there were some who agreed with him when in 1956, aged 24, he published The Outsider, a somewhat portentous overview of existentialism and alienation.

Examining the role of outsiders in the arts, Wilson’s attention roamed across a multitude of figures such as Camus, Nietzsche, Kafka, Sartre, Hermann Hesse and Van Gogh. Few first books have been greeted with such unequivocal enthusiasm. Edith Sitwell, Cyril Connolly and Philip Toynbee were among those who hailed Wilson as one of the brightest young writers of the moment…

Wilson once observed: “I consider my life work that of a philosopher, and my purpose to create a new and optimistic existentialism.”

Over at the indispensable Daily Grail website, David Metcalfe has a nice article on Wilson.

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