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“A Naked Stranger”

David Lindsay’s VOYAGE TO ARCTURUS

The sea tempted him. He made up his mind to bathe, and at once walked toward the shore. The instant he stepped outside the shadow line of the forest trees, the blinding rays of the sun beat down on him so savagely that for a few minutes he felt sick and his head swam. He trod quickly across the sands. The orange-coloured parts were nearly hot enough to roast food, he judged, but the violet parts were like fire itself. He stepped on a patch in ignorance, and immediately jumped high into the air with a startled yell.

The sea was voluptuously warm. It would not bear his weight, so he determined to try swimming. First of all he stripped off his skin garment, washed it thoroughly with sand and water, and laid it in the sun to dry. Then he scrubbed himself as well as he could and washed out his beard and hair. After that, he waded in a long way, until the water reached his breast, and took to swimming—avoiding the spouts as far as possible He found it no pastime. The water was everywhere of unequal density. In some places he could swim, in others he could barely save himself from drowning, in others again he could not force himself beneath the surface at all. There were no outward signs to show what the water ahead held in store for him. The whole business was most dangerous.

He came out, feeling clean and invigorated. For a time he walked up and down the sands, drying himself in the hot sunshine and looking around him. He was a naked stranger in a huge, foreign, mystical world, and whichever way he turned, unknown and threatening forces were glaring at him. The gigantic, white, withering Branchspell, the awful, body-changing Alppain, the beautiful, deadly, treacherous sea, the dark and eerie Swaylone’s Island, the spirit-crushing forest out of which he had just escaped—to all these mighty powers, surrounding him on every side, what resources had he, a feeble, ignorant traveller to oppose, from a tiny planet on the other side of space, to avoid being utterly destroyed?… Then he smiled to himself. “I’ve already been here two days, and still I survive. I have luck—and with that one can balance the universe. But what is luck—a verbal expression, or a thing?”—David Lindsay, A Voyage to Arcturus

 

One thought on ““A Naked Stranger”

  1. Great novel! a real mind-stretcher. I finally tracked down a copy of his novel, _The Haunted Woman_. It’s slowly moving its way up the queue.

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