'An important literary achievement.' - Library Journal
'Colin Wilson has a narrative style that can make the pursuit of any idea seem like exciting detective work.' - The Times
'Colin Wilson's best novel to date.' - The Spectator
Howard Lester, a young scientist, becomes obsessed with the problem of death and begins a series of unconventional experiments aimed at increasing human longevity. In the course of their research, Lester and his friend Sir Henry Littleway make a startling discovery: a simple and harmless operation on the brain's prefrontal cortex results in vastly expanded consciousness and mental powers. After undergoing the procedure themselves, Lester and Littleway develop remarkable abilities, including 'time vision', a means of seeing backwards into time. They begin by looking at the relatively recent past-the eighteenth century and Shakespeare's England. But they soon find they can see much further back, to the days of Stonehenge and the Mayans, and even earlier. . . . But as they get closer to uncovering the beginnings of human existence, they make a terrifying discovery: something ancient and immensely powerful, long asleep, has been awakened by their activities, and is determined to stop them at all costs. . . .
In The Strength to Dream (1962), Colin Wilson had criticized the works of H.P. Lovecraft, the American writer of weird tales, which led to Lovecraft's publisher August Derleth daring Wilson to write one better. This novel, The Philosopher's Stone (1969), was the result, a fascinating blend of science fiction, horror, and philosophy, told within the framework of Lovecraft's mythos. This edition is newly typeset from the first British edition and features a new introduction by Wilson scholar and bibliographer Colin Stanley.
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Wilson probably has earned a reputation more as a scholar and biographer than as a novelist; but this novel, originally published in 1969 and here rescued from obscurity by new-age publisher Jeremy P. Tarcher, proves that he possesses significant skills in the area of fiction as well. Wilson weaves a great deal of speculation into the meaning of human existence and the future of the species into the plot; so much so that the book at times seems as much a work of philosophy as of fiction. The story centers on the experiences of Howard Lester, an enterprising young intellectual whose work with fellow researcher Henry Littleway leads to the discovery that implanting a minute bit of a metallic alloy into the prefrontal cortex of the brain can introduce a higher state of conciousness. (As in the case with Carlos Castaneda in his thematically-similar Don Juan chronicles, the researchers later discover that the artificial catalyst is not necessary, but rather a convenient means to overcome years of conditioning). Lester and Littleway perform the operation upon themselves and proceed to refine their new skills until they are able to employ a sort of "time visioif 'that allows them to tap into racial memories. With this knowledge comes the realization that there are shadowy periods in our species' past that have been kept hidden from us by more powerful beings. Lester relates his moment of insight: "I knew with certainty that there is something in the world's prehistory that cannot be found in any of the books on the past. And it was obscurely connected with [a] sense of evil...." In the course of discovering how the Eardi-and mankind-truly evolved, this intriguing tale touches upon everything from Mayan civilization to Abraham Maslow to H.P. Lovecraft's elder Gods. -- From Independent PublisherFrom Library Journal:
Purveyor of the occult, Wilson almost yearly produces fiction and nonfiction works that achieve popular if not critical success. This novel was first published here in 1971; it is being reissued, with a foreward by Joyce Carol Oates, as part of a series that makes available out-of-print classics in spirituality. "The last third . . . is disappointingly wasted on mere occultism, but the first part is an important literary achievement" ( LJ
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Book Description Jeremy P. Tarcher, 1989. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110874775094