Esslin’s appropriation of the term for theatre and its subsequent success is unfortunate in one way, namely, because it has obscured the widespread use of the word ‘absurd’ in other contexts. In 1956 Colin Wilson published a book called The Outsider which enjoyed considerable notoriety. Beginning with the anonymous hero of Henri Barbusse’s novel Hell, he considers Sartre’s novel Nausea, Camus and Hemingway. After pointing out that in previous societies the outsider had a place – as a romantic dreamer – he looks at Hermann Hesse and, surprisingly, Henry James, before turning to outsiders in real life (T. E. Lawrence, Van Gogh, and Nijinsky). He covers, in rapid succession, what Yeats called the ‘tragic generation’ of the nineteenth century, Count Axel, the vastations of Swedenborg, T. S. Eliot, Nietzsche, Dostoevsky (the outsider is in everything Dostoevsky wrote) and comes to the following conclusions: that the Outsider would like to cease being one, and wants to be balanced; he would like to understand the human soul and escape from triviality, and to do this he needs to know how to express himself, for that is the means by which he can know himself and his possibilities. Two discoveries emerge: that his salvation lies in extremes, and that the idea of a way out often comes in visions or moments of intensity (The Outsider, p. 202). For his visionaries Wilson chooses George Fox and William Blake, with Ramakrishna and Gurdjieff for good measure, and arrives at the idea that the individual who begins as an Outsider may finish as a saint.