Devil's Tor Critical Essays

David Lindsay


(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Devil’s Tor is a revised version of a novel written in the early 1920’s, originally called The Ancient Tragedy, which carried forward the central themes of David Lindsay’s novels A Voyage to Arcturus (1920) and The Haunted Woman (1922). The dualistic and pain-saturated theology of the former novel is here revised, elaborated, and solidly grounded in an idiosyncratic version of human prehistory. The intense and sublime central relationship that is the focal point of the latter novel could reach only temporary fruition therein, in another world. Here it is recapitulated as a historical pivot, given the power to renew the spiritual fervor that contemporary life has exhausted.

Unlike the dualism of A Voyage to Arcturus, which is basically combative although it differs markedly from conventional accounts of God and the devil, the dualism of Devil’s Tor is collaborative. The sexless Ancient produced the Earth-Mother as a necessary instrument of procreation; it is she and not the beings she creates who has undergone a “fall” into sexuality—a fall that involves the spirit as well as the flesh. Lindsay’s narrative takes an ambivalent view of sexuality, as do all of his novels, which he began to write after jilting his longtime fiancée and marrying a much young woman. The narrative does accept sexuality’s fateful force, arguing that its chief redeeming feature is its power of renewal and...

(The entire section is 555 words.)