Quote: Jonathan Bowden on Colin Wilson


An almost perfect description of Colin Wilson, the polymath writer who was never really accepted by the British literary establishment after his first phenomenal success with The Outsider in 1956... This passage is taken from "a letter to an absent relative" in Bowden's 1991 book Fury:
"Wilson himself was an unusual author who had not been accepted by the artistic establishment, primarily because he was a working class autodidact who possessed little grace or tact when dealing with his betters. Indeed, Wilson’s work was a strange amalgam of different tendencies, some advanced and others relatively retarded. As the author attempted to show that he was a functioning intellectual, on the one hand, whist remaining a middle-brow celebrity, a Sunday supplement writer, on the other. We might say, therefore, that Wilson’s work was divided into two distinct halves; the one wry, relatively humorous and quite ironic—remarkably English, in fact—while the other was opinionated, bombastic and self-congratulatory in tone. It was as if Wilson wrote intellectual books in a popular vein, without admitting that he was doing this, and without laying his head on the block in contrition for populist tendencies. Nevertheless, Wilson will often take four or five sides to make a point that could have been made in a paragraph, and this only confirms the latent insecurity of the autodidact, no matter how gifted. Moreover, Colin Wilson’s views, romantic and wistful as they were, placed him on the Right politically—at least in a meta-political and cultural sense—and for a while at any rate he was part of Sir Oswald Mosley’s intellectual ‘kitchen cabinet’. (Something that was bound to doom him in the eyes of the liberal intelligentsia.)"

A more extended quote can be read here.



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