The Outsider By Colin Wilson

I was introduced to Colin Wilson when a podcast interviewed the author (Gary Lachman) of one of his biographies ‘Beyond the Robot’. Finally, this year I got round to reading ‘The Outsider’ (1956) which was the book that really launched Wilson’s writing career. He wrote on a wide variety of topics, true crime and the occult to mention just two.

The tag line on my copy reads ‘The classic study of alienation, creativity and the modern mind’ and sums up the book rather well. The book examines the psyche of outsiders and the two-way interactions between them and society. It does this by looking at characters in novels (often directly reflecting the author), the lives of artists such as Van Gogh and other historical characters.

It can been quite a heavy read. I felt a little lost at times as I am still not as well read as the 24 year old Wilson was. Maybe I should add a few of the titles to the ‘To be read’ list… However, Wilson keeps the book going at pace with variety and an overall positive approach to existence that does not fall into a religious zeal or simplistic slogans.

I am currently reading his book ‘The Mammoth Encyclopedia of the Unsolved’ which covers many classics unsolved stories of history and myth from King Arthur to the Bermuda Triangle. A much lighter read than ‘The Outsider’ which has earned a place on my shelf for a future rare re-read.