• My thesis was that religion begins with the stimulus which heroism supplies to the imagination. Colin Wilson

  • Spiritual hell is to place a man of high abilities and great talent in a position where he will be frustrated and bored, denied self-expression.

  • The Outsider is a romantic and a mystic; and what is more, the essence of Western civilisation — the ‘Faustian culture is mystical and romantic. Western culture is the culture of Outsiders.

  • ‘In The Outsider…I tried to give a sketch of certain positive attempts to solve the problems of the Outsider. These attempts pointed to a religious solution, but one which was only outlined. In this present book, I hope to present such a solution more fully.’

EDITOR’S  NOTE TO COLIN WILSON’S RELIGION AND THE REBEL

The purpose of religion, writes Colin Wilson in Religion and the Rebel, is to expand our consciousness and transform us into visionaries. This powerful statement captures the genuine and pragmatic value that Colin Wilson confers on religion and reminds us of its unique power to grant insight and make us recipients of the holy. We have forgotten that true religion should be a means of getting in touch with our divine self and that being religious signifies experiencing the mystery that pervades the universe. This scholarly and insightful volume is not a work about religion in its traditional sense. It is a bold and optimistic casebook which, more than fifty years after its first publication, remains ahead of its time.


‘This scholarly and insightful volume is not a work about religion in its traditional sense. It is a bold and optimistic casebook which, more than fifty years after its first publication, remains ahead of its time.’


Wilson’s concept of religion will appeal to those who have “outgrown” traditional religious systems and ventured on their own into the exploration of their souls. Anybody sincerely interested in attaining a sense of life and its possibilities will benefit from this book, because it makes us confront those questions that, as human beings, we will always have to face. And it does so from an optimistic perspective, free of the despair and defeatism that characterizes the philosophy and literature of the twentieth century. Wilson believes in man’s own potential to attain powerful states of consciousness, epiphanies and revelations. For this alone, he differs from his contemporaries.


‘His philosophy, which he called New Existentialism, is an antidote to the meaninglessness and nihilism hovering over us.’


Like any true Outsider, Colin Wilson is impossible to classify. His philosophy, which he called New Existentialism, is an antidote to the meaninglessness and nihilism hovering over us. Wilson places the responsibility of creating meaning into our own hands and teaches us that discipline and knowledge are the key for reaching our goals.

Religion and the Rebel, the volume that came after The Outsider – which brought Wilson worldwide renown in the mid-50s of the last century – is, according to Wilson himself, a more insightful and comprehensive book than the first. Here Wilson gives us a penetrating analysis of those philosophers, scientists, poets and writers for whom religion became the answer to their search for meaning. For Wilson, religion means facing and engaging with the big questions, those we cannot ignore: How can I live my life more fully, how I can become the master of my destiny, how can I attain states of super-consciousness….?


‘Religion and the Rebel is a casebook for Outsiders, for rebels, for those unafraid of venturing within their inner self. ‘


The intellectual depth with which Wilson expresses his insights is on a par with Nietzsche, as are his boldness and his passion. Wilson offers us a response to futility and disillusionment. He spurs us to use our greatest weapon: willpower. He reminds us that we are responsible for our lives and the intensity with which we experience its most essential dimensions.

Religion and the Rebel is a casebook for Outsiders, for rebels, for those unafraid of venturing within their inner self. Nothing is more important than taking charge of our own destiny and connecting with the mysterious source of power that governs the universe. This work presents us with the tools that some of the greatest men of Western culture have used to face their need for transcendence. Religion and the Rebel is a scholarly and audacious book that will follow us on the fascinating journey of our lives.

Samantha Devin

Editor and co-founder of Aristeia Press

  • ‘It is cleat to Wilson that “man possesses enormous powers which he prefers not to use”. His new existentialism is founded upon the belief that ‘ordinary’ consciousness is voluntarily restricted’
    COLIN STANLEY, from Around the Outsider. Wilson’s biographer, Managing Director of Paupers Press.

  • ‘I have written at length about Religion and the Rebel for two reasons. One is to show that The Outsider was only the beginning of Wilson’s attempt at posing the problems confronting “the heroic figure of our time.” The other is to show that it is an important book and deserves to be better known.’
    GARY LACHMAN, Beyond the Robot, The life and work of Colin Wilson

  • ‘Defying the critical mauling which could have sunk other writers, Wilson ploughed straight ahead with his second book and developed his “phenomenological existentialism” with arguments that remain as lucid in 2017 as they did in 1957. Religion and the Rebel is an overlooked classic.’
    PHILIP COULTHARD, Colin Wilson Online.

  • ‘‘Religion and the Rebel’, Colin Wilson’s compelling sequel to ‘The Outsider’, is his seminal work on the development of ‘visionary consciousness’, the subject which became his lifelong key preoccupation: the ‘Outsider problem’ – how to learn the mental disciplines by which we can raise ourselves into states of mystical perception leading to self-transformation.’
    GEOFF WARD, writer, poet, musician. Founder of Colin Wilson World.

  • ‘Because the Outsider needs an “…existence philosophy, a science of living” Wilson is asking how does his subject use the wisdom of his/her work to direct his/her own life?’
    COLIN STANLEY, Wilson’s biographer, Managing Director of Paupers Press.

  • ‘Wilson writes that humans are ready to take the next step in evolution, but are ‘marking time’. We cannot go further unless old habits are let go. Many more people would share this view today than in the mid-1970s. As Wilson has always shown, whether one meets life with a belief in the possibility of mastering its difficulties or with the expectation of defeat is an extremely important existential issue.’
    VAUGHAN RAPATAHANA

INSIDE RELIGION AND THE REBEL