The Outsider was a collection of essays that explored the philosophical idea of ‘the outsider’ in literature including that of Kafka, Camus, Hesse, Sartre and Nietzsche. It was an impressive collection of modern writers but it seems extraordinary today that the 24 year old Wilson, within a few days of publication, was rocketed into celebrity orbit for what was essentially a book of existential literary criticism.
For many of the tens of thousands who bought the book it was probably just a good way of making an acquaintance with intellectual foreign authors without the laborious obligation of actually having to read their stuff. But for whatever reason the book incredibly sold out its initial print run of 5000 copies on the very first day of publication.
Another Nickel In The Machine : Hampstead Heath and the Rise and Fall of the author Colin Wilson