Sunday, June 12, 2016

Persona non grata …

The University Bookman: Anything but Bland Conformity. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
… Wilson, a Bohemian without a university degree, who had written The Outsider in the reading room of the British Museum while spending his nights in a sleeping bag on Hampstead Heath, had trespassed on credentialed territory. Who was this self-appointed authority, not yet thirty, who arrogated to himself the unendowed privilege to criticize orthodoxy, and who argued for irrelevant and embarrassing figures like Søren Kierkegaard and Oswald Spengler? Worse, in the later books of the “Outsider Cycle,” Wilson wrote with obvious knowledge and non-professorial enthusiasm about the phenomenology of the obscure German-Jewish philosopher Edmund Husserl. An upstart who advocated for foreign metaphysicians against the British school of logical positivism, Wilson had made of himself a permanent persona non grata among respectable society. At the same time, however, Wilson had created an audience. Although the prejudice against him eventually caused mainstream publishing houses to shy from him, he went on writing; and his books, usually issued by small but enterprising houses, went on selling.

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