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A Voyage to... on University Challenge
3 April 2024

David Lindsay’s first novel featured in one of three bonus questions on the theme of “early 20th century fantasy” in the most recent episode (1st April 2024 — though this is no April Fool’s joke!) of the long-running UK quiz University Challenge, which, rather than general knowledge, specialises in the obscure, technical, and erudite.

After a starter question about Thomas Hardy, the trio of bonus questions and answers were as follows, with Amol Rajan asking, and the University College London team answering:

Rajan: Your bonuses, UCL, are three questions on fantasy in the early 20th century. First, a 1920 novel by the Scottish author David Lindsay is entitled A Voyage To... which star? The planet Tormance orbits the fictionalised star of the novel, while in reality it is the brightest star in the constellation Boötes, and one of the brightest in the night sky.

UCL: Vega?

Rajan: No, it’s Arcturus. First serialised in 1906, The Wonderful Adventures Of Nils centres on a young boy who is transformed into a gnome-like creature known as a tomte. Which Swedish Nobel laureate wrote it?

UCL: Lagerlöf.

Rajan: Correct. Published in 1924, The King Of Elfland’s Daughter is a novel by which influential Anglo-Irish writer of fantasy?

UCL: Ursula Le Guin.

Rajan: No, it’s Lord Dunsany, or Edward Plunkett.

This comes only a few years after H P Lovecraft got his first mention on the show. You can see the whole episode on iPlayer if you’re in the UK (the question’s at around 24 minutes 48 seconds in), or just the clip of the starter question and bonuses, at Vimeo.

Reading Colin Wilson, including Lindsay talk, published
4 February 2024
Reading Colin Wilson (cover)

Out on 19th February from Paupers' Press, Reading Colin Wilson: Papers Delivered at the Third International Colin Wilson Conference, Nottingham, September 1-3, 2023 (Colin Wilson Studies #32). Edited by Colin Stanley, it contains Seán Martin's paper, "Unknown to the Post Office: Identifying Locations from the Life and Work of David Lindsay", as well as images of some of the locations discussed. The ISBN is 978-0995597853, and it can be ordered from Amazon.

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