For a a copy of the exhaustive Colin Wilson bibliography, contact Paupers’ Press. A complete collection of Wilson books, manuscripts and much more is housed at Nottingham University. This is a rough guide to Wilson’s extensive output: an illustrated gallery of his first editions is here.
A: The Outsider Cycle – seven volumes, 1956 – 1966.
The Outsider (1956), Religion and the Rebel (1957), The Age of Defeat (1959), The Strength to Dream: Literature and the Imagination (1962), Origins of the Sexual Impulse (1963), Beyond the Outsider: The Philosophy of the Future (1965), are the primary texts where Wilson developed his “phenomenological existentialism” a.k.a. the New Existentialism. The first six volumes were summarised a seventh, Introduction to the New Existentialism (1966) and this was reprinted in 1980 as The New Existentialism. Unfortunately both are long out of print and even the later paperback is swiftly becoming a rarity. An Essay on the ‘New’ Existentialism (1986) which deals with the same themes, is still available however. The Outsider has never been out of print and both Religion and the Rebel and The Age of Defeat are now back in print. There is a short guide to the Outsider series available here.
B: Fiction 1960 – 1967.
Ritual in the Dark (1960), Adrift in Soho (1961), The Man without a Shadow (aka The Sex Diary of Gerard Sorme, 1963), The World of Violence (1963), Necessary Doubt (1964), The Glass Cage (1966), The Mind Parasites (1967); all highly recommended and still available as reissues. Most of these novels developed out of their non-fiction twin, and can be read as perfect illustrations of Wilson’s philosophy. The Mind Parasites, that semi-satirical swipe at Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos, was invoked from an insight on page 161 of The New Existentialism. Other Lovecraft tributes/pastiches followed later in the sixties: The Philosopher’s Stone and The Return of the Lloigor (one of Wilson’s very few short stories). Necessary Doubt and The Glass Cage are eccentric whodunnit’s involving the theories of Heidegger and Blake and Man without a Shadow prefigures Wilson’s interest in occult philosophy. The World of Violence, a comparative study of the light and dark of the ivory tower and gang violence, is somewhat underrated and like his first nine works of fiction, still available.
C: Magic, Murder and Mysticism
Press reports on Wilson always state the cliche that he turned away from his philosophical and literary interests when he wrote about mysticism and criminology (despite both being obviously signposted very early in his career). This is an oversimplification and a misunderstanding as his technique of new existentialism studies both the hidden (occult is Latin for ‘hidden’) depths of consciousness as well as the restrictions of everyday conscious activity and it’s problems (crime being a very stark illustration of this problem). The pioneering true crime compendium, the Encyclopaedia of Murder (co-authored with Pat Pitman, 1961), and the sociological and psychological studies which followed, A Casebook of Murder (1969) and Order of Assassins (1972), are his ‘crime trilogy’. The book which welcomed him back to the mainstream critical fold for the first time since 1957, The Occult (1971), is, with Mysteries (1978) and Beyond the Occult (1988) the hefty “occult trilogy”. The latter three titles still remain available and Wilson bibliographer Colin Stanley has written a guide “for students” which summarises all three volumes in less than 80 pages! Both trilogies have lots of satellite texts – from rarities such as The Unexplained (Lost Pleiade Press, 1975) to many cheap ‘n cheerful paperback cannibalisations of the trilogies’ narratives, most of which can still be found fairly easily for reasonable second hand prices. Wilson regards Beyond the Occult as his best book, and I would suggest A Criminal History of Mankind (1984) as the best of his crime books – it is more disturbing (yet still full of optimistic epiphanies) than any of the ‘irrational’ weirdness in the occult tomes. Poetry and Mysticism (1970) is a bridge between the Outsider sequence and The Occult.
D: Philosophy and Dirty Books
The ’60′s were a very prolific time for Wilson, partly out of necessity. Although he later said that it felt like he was working in a vacuum, this period is one of the most interesting and diverse sections of his entire bibliography, and includes some of his scarcest books. Sex and the Intelligent Teenager (Arrow, 1966), for instance, was a kind of pulp Origins of the Sexual Impulse only available as a paperback (a reissue is still available from Paupers’ Press). The collection of existential criticism Eagle and Earwig has been reissued in a hardback for the first time in decades by Eyewear Publishing. Brandy of the Damned is a study of classical and other musics – it was expanded for the American edition and this became the Pan paperback Colin Wilson on Music. Curios such as L’Amour (Crown, 1972), juxtaposed soft porn vaseline lens snaps with philosophical Wilson quotes. No sign of a reissue yet…
E: Literary criticism etc.
Voyage to a Beginning was originally published in 1969, a more thorough autobiography was published in 2005 (Dreaming to Some Purpose). His play Strindberg (orig. Calder & Boyars, 1970) was reissued by Paupers’ Press, as was a collection of previously unavailable dramatic works, The ‘Death of God’ and Other Plays. Important books such as New Pathways in Psychology (1972) and The Craft of the Novel welcomed him back to Gollancz. The latter book took some critical flak at the time (1975) for suggesting that Lord of the Rings would become more popular as the decades wore on. Wilson 1 – TLS critics 0. Small press books and pamphlets from this era such as ‘Tree’ by Tolkien and essays on Wilhelm Reich, Hermann Hesse, Jorge Luis Borges and the director Ken Russell are now rarities but really only of interest to obsessive collectors. A Book of Booze (again, Gollancz, 1974) was apparently written so the author could claim his wine as a business expense (!)
F: More Fiction, 70′s/80′s
The use of Bertholt Brecht’s A–Effekt can still be seen in the likes of porno-parody The God of the Labyrinth (Hart-Davis, 1970), but The Killer (orig. NEL, 1970; uncut version, Savoy, 2002), was more brutally real and documentary like. Nicholas Roeg wanted to direct this at the time, using a hand held camera “but couldn’t raise the cash” according to Wilson. The Black Room and the Inspector Saltleet mysteries were more accessible, as was The Personality Surgeon (NEL, 1985) – a Shavian tale of digital makeovers of the body/mind complex. Wilson was very fond of his Spider World fantasy books which ran to four volumes (a fifth, once mentioned, has never appeared, sadly). The Magician from Siberia, a novelisation of his earlier Rasputin and the Fall of the Romanovs is very rare in it’s original (Robert Hale, 1988) printing, but has been reissued by Maurice Bassett for cheap digital download via Amazon stores.
Julian Jaynes’ theory of “the breakdown of the bicameral mind” was a big influence on books from Mysteries onwards. It was investigated in the likes of short and snappy monographs such as Frankenstein’s Castle (Ashgrove, 1980), Access to Inner Worlds (Rider, 1983) and also in the comprehensive A Criminal History of Mankind. Wilson discussed the left/right brain dichotomy in a pamphlet entitled The Laurel and Hardy Theory of Consciousness (included in The Essential Colin Wilson, see below). These and Starseekers, a large and lavishly illustrated book on the history of astronomy, point the way to his interest in lost civilisations and their ‘mentality’ in the next few decades. Aquarian published a series of biographical studies on Jung, Crowley, Steiner, Gurdjieff and Ouspensky at this time and these have been reissued by Aeon Books, the latter two available as a two for one digital download by Maurice Bassett from Amazon. The Misfits (Grafton, 1988) returned to the themes of Origin of the Sexual Impulse once again, and was reviewed by Anthony Burgess and in the satirical fortnightly ‘organ’ Private Eye.
H: Around the Outsider & CW Scholarship
The Essential Colin Wilson (Grafton, 1985) is an excellent compendium of his classic writings with some fresh material (an updated reissue is due in 2019). Alongside Howard F. Dossor’s Colin Wilson: The Man and his Mind (Element, 1990), these were the only two books which managed to cram an overview of his writings and ideas in-between two covers, later joined by Wilson’s own 2005 autobiography and Gary Lachman’s Beyond the Robot. Wilson’s memoir of the AYM period, The Angry Years (Robson Books, 2007) is recommended as a straight from the horses’ mouth document of the time. Savoy offshoot Michael Butterworth Books published this, CW interviewed by Brad Spurgeon. Below the Iceberg is a collection of essays on various philosophers; Sartre, Camus, Foucault, Barthes and Derrida, some reprinted from Anti-Sartre and others intended for (but unfortunately cut from) what would become The Devil’s Party, a study of charlatan messiahs. Small press items such as his letters to a Henry Miller scholar (published by Roger Jackson in 1996) and a file of Colin’s emendations to his own copy of The New Existentialism were only really available from the late Paul Newman’s magazine Abraxas and are now very scarce. Abraxas also published pamphlets of rare Wilsonia, and Colin Stanley’s Paupers’ Press continues to republish out of print tiles and the Colin Wilson Studies series. Recent publications have included The Sound Barrier, a sequel to Sidney Campion’s Wilson biography and even what is left of Wilson’s never completed novel Lulu (which was intended to be a War and Peace sized brick of a novel). These quote liberally from CW’s notebooks and are invaluable to Wilson scholars. Around the Outsider (O Books, 2011, also available digitally) is a collection of essays which was presented to Colin on his 80th birthday. There are a few manuscripts which deserve publication; one on Shakespeare, and another which is a sequel to The Space Vampires (usually known as Metamorphosis of the Vampire). So far this has only appeared in Russian.
Appendix. This is from a document Colin sent me; his personal version of his own bibliography. He has split up his works by genre and added some brief comments. There are a few minor mistakes here and there, but I’ve left them in. He wrote longer commentaries on some of the early books (this information was all for a large website he was planning which never came to fruition) but only got up to Eagle and Earwig. Longer commentaries are linked to and shorter ones are in brackets next to the book titles on this page.
Colin Wilson: A Bibliography
The ‘Outsider Cycle’ (1956-66) [Colin Wilson’s complete commentary on all seven volumes plus his Encyclopedia of Murder is here]
The Outsider (1956)
Religion and the Rebel (1957)
The Age of Defeat (in America The Stature of Man) (1959)
The Strength to Dream: Literature and the Imagination (1962)
Origins of the Sexual Impulse (1963)
Beyond the Outsider – The Philosophy of the Future (1965)
Introduction to the New Existentialism (1966) (Republished as The New Existentialism. This may be regarded as a summary of the ideas of the six ‘Outsider’ books.)
The Misfits – A Study of Sexual Outsiders (1988) (This may also be regarded as a late postscript to the Outsider Cycle.)
Sex and the Intelligent Teenager (1966) (A paperback original, intended for teenagers.)
The Strange Genius of David Lindsay (1970) (A collaboration with J.B.Pick and E.H.Visiak)
The Brandy of the Damned – Discoveries of a Musical Eclectic (1964) (Published in America as Chords and Discords.)
Eagle and Earwig (Essays in Literary Criticism) (1965) [Essays on Philosophy and Literature. Here again I am attempting to practice existential criticism: that is, criticism that takes the life of a writer into account in judging his art. In its essay on existential criticism – the second in the book – I write: ‘The disease of our time is the diffidence, the sense of personal insignificance, that feels the need to disguise itself as academic objectivity when it attempts to philosophise’.]
The Bicameral Critic (Essays in Literature and Philosophy) (1985)
Existentially Speaking: Essays on Literature and Philosophy (1989)
Marx Refuted (Edited by Colin Wilson and Ronald Duncan) (1987)
Frankenstein’s Castle (1980) (The subtitle ‘The Right Brain, Door to Wisdom was added by the publisher without my permission, and makes me wince.)
Access to Inner Worlds – the Story of Brad Absetz (1983)
Poetry and Mysticism (1970)
The Craft of the Novel (1975)
The Essential Colin Wilson (1985) (Self-chosen anthology of all my work – perhaps the best short introduction to my ideas.)
A Book of Booze (1974)
Starseekers (1980) (A history of science and astronomy)
Other Non–fiction works:
Rasputin and the Fall of the Romanovs (1964) [In 1964 I was reading a play by Georg Kaiser about Mary Baker Eddy, and her conviction that illness can be cured by the mind. I had bought a book called Rasputin, A New Judgement by a German journalist named Heinz Liepman, which claimed to be based on ‘recently discovered record of the Ochrana’, the Russian secret police. Unaware that it was mostly fiction, I had been deeply impressed by it, and the Kaiser play made me begin to think about writing a book on Rasputin, and his remarkable healing powers.]
Bernard Shaw – A Reassessment (1969)
New Pathways in Psychology – Abraham Maslow and the Post–Freudian Revolution (1972)
Gurdjieff: The War Against Sleep (1980)
The Quest for Wilhelm Reich (1981)
Jung: The Lord of the Underworld (1984)
Steiner: The Man and his Vision (1985)
Aleister Crowley: The Image of the Beast (1987)
The Strange Life of P.D.Ouspensky (1993)
Voyage to a Beginning (1969)
Dreaming to Some Purpose (2004)
The Occult Trilogy –
The Occult– A History (1971)
Mysteries: An Investigation into the Occult (1978)
Beyond the Occult (1988)
(The above three books are my major works on the paranormal, and the last (Beyond the Occult) I am inclined to think the best over-all summary of my ideas.)
Strange Powers (1973)
Men of Strange Powers (also Mysterious Powers) 1975)
Enigmas and Mysteries (1976)
The Geller Phenomenon (1976)
(The above 3 books are part of a 20 volume lavishly illustrated set The Supernatural, edited by myself and Christopher Evans.)
Poltergeist: A Study in Destructive Haunting (1981)
The Psychic Detectives: The Story of Psychometry (1984)
Afterlife: An Investigation of Life After Death (1985)
The Supernatural (edited by Damon Wilson) (1991) (This is a huge book, part anthology, part original writing, which is my most definitive work on the subject.)
From Atlantis to the Sphinx (Virgin, 1996)
The Books in My Life – Hampton Roads Publishing (1998)
Alien Dawn, An Investigation into the Abduction Experience, Virgin (1998)
The Atlantis Blueprint (with Rand Flem-Ath), (2000)
An Encyclopedia of Murder (with Patricia Pitman) 1961
An Encyclopedia of Modern Murder (with Donald Seaman) (1983)
A Casebook of Murder (1969)
Order of Assassins (1972)
A Criminal History of Mankind (1984)
(The above is probably my most important and definitive work on criminal psychology)
Written in Blood: A History of Forensic Detection (1989)
The Serial Killers (with Donald Seaman) (1990)
Jack the Ripper: Summing Up and Verdict (with Robin Odell) (1988)
The Mammoth Book of True Crime (edited by Howard Dossor) (1988) (An anthology of my articles from a partwork called Crimes and Punishment)
The Second Mammoth Book of True Crime (edited by Damon Wilson) (1990) (A second anthology of my writing on criminology, including most of A Casebook of Murder and Order of Assassins.)
A Plague of Murder (a history of serial murder), with Damon Wilson, Robinson Publishing (1995)
Ritual in the Dark (1960)
Adrift in Soho (1961)
The World of Violence (1963) (In America, The Violent World of Hugh Greene.)
The Man Without a Shadow (1963) (In America, The Sex Diary of Gerard Sorme, and later, The Sex Diary of a Metaphysician.)
Necessary Doubt (1964)
The Glass Cage (1966)
The Mind Parasites (1967)
The Philosophers‘ Stone
The God of the Labyrinth (1970). (This, together with Ritual in the Dark and The Man Without a Shadow, constitutes my ‘Gerard Sorme Trilogy’)
The Killer (1970) (In America, Lingard.)
The Black Room (1971)
The Return of the Lloigor (1974) (A long short story in the Lovecraft tradition)
The Schoolgirl Murder Case (1974) (Detective fiction)
The Space Vampires (1976)
The Janus Murder Case (1984)
The Personality Surgeon (1985)
The Magician From Siberia (1988)
Spider World – The Tower (1986)
Spider World – The Delta (1987)
Spider World – The Magician (1992)
Spider World – Shadow Land (2003)
The Metamorphosis of the Vampire (sequel to The Space Vampires). Unpublished in English, only in Russia.
Play: Strindberg (1970) Presented at the Leeds Playhouse as Pictures in a Bath of Acid, with Alfred Burke as Strindberg.
Mozart’s Journey to Prague (1988).
The World of Colin Wilson, by Sidney Campion (Muller, 1962)
Colin Wilson, by John Weigel (Twayne English Authors Series, Twayne, USA, 1975.)
Colin Wilson and Beyond, by Clifford P. Bendau, (Borgo Press, USA, 1979)
The Novels of Colin Wilson, by Nicolas Tredell, (Vision and Barnes and Noble, 1982.)
An Odyssey to Freedom: Four Themes in Colin Wilson’s Novels, by Gunnar K. Bergstrom, (Uppsala University Press, 1983.)
Colin Wilson: The Man and his Mind, by Howard F. Dossor, (Element Books, 1990.)
The Work of Colin Wilson – An Annotated Bibliography and Guide, by Colin Stanley, (Borgo Press, 1989)
3 thoughts on “Guide”
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Wonderful, helpful summary of Wilson’s oeuvre and keynote works and interests. Thank you. And I’m thoroughly enjoying browsing through and reading your entire set. Fascinating, considered, thoughtful content.
I was looking but didn’t find Wilson’s Poetry and Mysticism, the cover was a picture by Blake. The book, and, now that I think about it, the cover, had a big impact on me when I read it in high school, neglecting my studies to read the books I enjoyed versus the ones that were assigned..