Colin Henry Wilson 26 June 1931 – 5 December 2013.

By Vaughan Rapatahana

Given that Colin was himself rather prone to sweeping generalizations, indeed could on occasion be accused of hyperbolic rushes, I do not think that it is an exaggeration for me to state quite simply that Wilson was one of the more important writers and thinkers of his generation and as such that he will remain of considerable significance for many generations to come. Surely his huge oeuvre will be of even more exponentially increasing import as time headlongs itself forward, as readers and critics increasingly untrove the massive arsenal that is his written work, from libraries, second-hand bookstores and on the web.

The key to this rather prolix statement above is that Wilson was both a very good writer and a very good thinker – two polar opposites for the vast majority of writers and thinkers per se, who did not have his bicameral gift. In other words, not only could he write clearly, cogently and enthusiastically about a wide vista of – to him, always interrelated topics – but he would write about them existentially, always existentially, for everything he wrote, down to his lesser fictive excursions and his rants on subjects such as gardening – always had some ontological and epistemological grounding in this, his overall Existentialist Weltanshauung.

It is this, his quasi-obsession drive to relate everything to and from his own profound inner nuclear warhead, his mystic overview of how things ‘really should be’, that impelled him to write, transcribe, read, rave and produce prodigiously for a healthy number of years and indeed for well into two distinct centuries.

This impellation was, of course, to translate and codify his prime philosophic truth: that man is greater than he/she thinks he/she is and that – damn it – he/she bloody well should be doing something about evolving a lot faster, transmogrifying into the true mighty Being they inherently all are.

It is this, Colin Wilson’s DNA of preaching and teaching our evolution into something natural yet supernatural, for which we will remember him, I think and not at all for the rampant bullshit written about him, nor for any foibles that he may or may not have had as a man, as an author.

In the end then, as I write a tribute according to the parameters of Wilson’s very own Existential Literary Criticism, I can unhesitatingly say that he is a taonga (as we Māori say) – a veritable vibrant treasure to be shared for years and years to come.


One thought on “Colin Henry Wilson 26 June 1931 – 5 December 2013.

  1. Colin always came across as a man not-afraid-to-think… more than that he was not-averse-to-saying. His Strength to Dream shone through everything he wrote and yet his work was accessible, not at all highbrow or ‘intellectual’… in my teens (many years ago) we used to hold parties where we (mainly artists, writers, musicians) would take turns to read Colin’s work aloud though more often we’d not reach the end of a passage because someone would invariably ‘interrupt’ to comment, to agree, to disagree. Colin’s lack of pretensions alienated him from the literary establishment to some extent; his very accessibility caused them to feel (quite incorrectly) that his ideas must therefor be ‘simple’… and of course he wrote popular crime novels so naturally he couldn’t be one of them. That was there loss; we, the new ‘beat’ generation, we understood him and we still carry within us fragments of his fine intellect and inspiring prose… he’ll be sadly missed.


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