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A vast shadow house: Critical and creative responses to David Lindsay’s vision



David Lindsay (1876-1945) wrote the metaphysical fantasy novel, A Voyage to Arcturus (1920), six further novels, and a typescript of philosophical notes (National Library of Scotland). Lindsay had a lifelong preoccupation with what he called the Sublime, drawing on Schopenhauer and German romanticism. Using the medium of experimental documentary film, I investigate Lindsay’s ideas and imagery and their analogue with filmmaking, such as his use of non-diegetic sound to indicate the sublime in his novels, and an unpublished 1928 notebook in which he started to adapt his novel The Haunted Woman (1922) for cinema. My film A Vast Shadow House: David Lindsay’s Vision sets extracts from Lindsay’s writing with new experimental landscape footage, together with interviews with contemporary Lindsay experts and admirers to investigate Lindsay’s vision. The film and this thesis situate Lindsay in the cultural context of romanticism, symbolism, occultism, and modernism. Drawing on aspects of cinematic theory (Schrader 2018 [1972]), I reframe Lindsay’s concern with the ineffable using narrative withholding techniques, ironic narration, and extended duration. I invoke Chion on sound in film, particularly the oneiric power of non-diegetic voices. The project examines Lindsay’s potential for cinematic meaning in the 21st century, finding analogues with filmmakers such as Tarkovsky, Herzog, Gröning, Kiarostami, and Gee.


Martin, S. E. A vast shadow house: Critical and creative responses to David Lindsay’s vision. (Thesis). Edinburgh Napier University. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Mar 8, 2022
Publicly Available Date Mar 8, 2022
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