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Old 10-24-2015   #41
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Re: Arthur Machen

Quote Originally Posted by Evans View Post
I think he thought the same re that last remark. He swore off writing any more sensationalist 'horrors' after The Three Impostors (it's telling that he didn't consider The White People a story of that type)
As The White People lifts heavily from his tale The Ceremony from Ornaments in Jade, retelling many of the same elements, it's possible he saw it as an extension of his prose poetry, as it lacks some of the more lurid elements from The Great God Pan or The Three Impostors.

To be honest, after now delving in to his work as a whole, I don't particularly consider Machen a 'horror writer' any more. He wrote so few of them, and his overall artistic literary ambition mostly lay in exploring a larger canvass. The White People, The Hill of Dreams and A Fragment of Life were his great masterpieces. Only White People could be deemed horror, and even then it doesn't purely aim for 'horror' as much as it does awe.

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and almost certainly wrote those last stories solely because he and his family needed the money.
It's a mixed blessing, really. On the one hand it's nice to see Machen back writing about eerie pagan mysticism themes again, but on the other hand... they serve as a reminder of how Machen simply isn't nearly as good at doing this sort of thing as he used to be. He had already said everything he could about these subjects, and done so to a high standard he could no longer match.

I shall read Opening the Door when my heart stops feeling like it is going to explode.

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Old 10-26-2015   #42
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Re: Arthur Machen

I read The Bright Boy today. An unexpectedly sexually perverse story from Machen, but I liked much of it. I can't find details online of when it was first written and published, but I read it in his Holy Terrors collection.

Quote Originally Posted by Robert Adam Gilmour View Post
Why does the protagonist of "The Bright Boy" hate the mother just from secretly listening to her before he flees? At that point her crimes had not yet been revealed.
From what I gathered, the protagonist's perspective at that time is that it seems she knows that her husband assaults young girls and yet doesn't report it to the police, merely expressing jealousy over his attention wandering, which is a bit dodgy to say the least.

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Old 11-13-2015   #43
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Re: Arthur Machen

I finished Tales Of Horror And The Supernatural today. Sorry to say I found most of it hard work, sometimes painfully so. This might be partly due to hearing a few people say it's one of the best collections ever released. I alternated between bored and fascinated so often I wasn't quite sure how I felt about most of the stories overall.
But every story had something I really liked in it (apart from "The Bowmen" but that's too short to complain much).

I love the obvious ones like "Great God Pan" and "The White People". The latter seems remarkably fresh to me, because apart from the framing parts, the motions don't feel familiar to that era of supernatural fiction.

"Shining Pyramid" and "The Children Of The Pool" have very fine chilling moments even though they weren't favourites.

"The Great Return" was my least favourite by a long way, but some of the visions were interesting.

"The Terror" had a lot of ups and downs for me but on the whole it does get more interesting as it progresses. The thing about the chimney was a great idea (oddly Tanith Lee in Horror: Another 100 Best Books says that this is the best story of the collection).

If I have a general complaint, it's the long conversations and long-windedness of the accounts. There's definitely lots of interesting ideas, musings and digressions within them but it still seemed to me a major flaw that dragged down the stories (I know plenty will vehemently disagree with that).

But the thing that I enjoyed most of the time was Machen's talent for settings and visions. So many beautiful countryside and village descriptions, especially in "The White People", "The Terror" and "The Shining Pyramid". Settings are very important to me so I don't consider this small praise.

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Old 11-13-2015   #44
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Re: Arthur Machen

There's a goodreads review claiming The Green Round as Machen's weakest piece but also insisting that it contains his most terrifying scene. That's frustrating because I don't think I want to be that completist with his fiction.

Anyone read much of his poetry?

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Old 11-14-2015   #45
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Re: Arthur Machen

I'd imagine there was a planned second Machen collection by Penguin that would have had "Great God Pan".

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Old 11-14-2015   #46
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Re: Arthur Machen

Now I'm rereading The White People after your post James. That's my weekend.
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Old 12-26-2015   #47
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Re: Arthur Machen

What is opinion here of The Green Round? I cannot find a copy for cheap and am unsure if it is worth the price whilst I am so poor. Online opinions on it are scarce, although bizarrely I found a recommendation from Stewart Lee, whose stand up I enjoy a great deal.

My Machen obsession has returned again in full force. Tonight I read The Red Hand for the umpteenth time, which features interesting use of symbolism and landscape as dreamscape. I think I should reread The Terror. I overall liked it last time, despite its longueurs, but now I'm a true obsessive fan I may be more forgiving of its rough edges, as I am with Hodgson's work.

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― Robert Aickman, An Essay
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Old 12-28-2015   #48
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Re: Arthur Machen

Quote Originally Posted by James Sucellus View Post
What is opinion here of The Green Round? I cannot find a copy for cheap and am unsure if it is worth the price whilst I am so poor.



I think it was sometime last year that I read The Green Round in the library, so my memory of the book may not do justice to it. It returns to the fey themes of his earlier work, yet is inferior to them and not entirely worthy of being ranked alongside them. I am sure there was a moment or two, and is of interest to those wishing to explore Machen's state of mind around the time it was written (1930s); but generally it is a slight novel. It does, however, feature one of my favourite Machenesque tropes: that of the solitary quester of esoteric lore, at odds with the mundane world around him, who scribbles down his musings in his notebook. Alas! the poor notebook is torn to shreds by an unknown, poltergeist-like force.

I believe in the power of the imagination to remake the world, to release the truth within us, to hold back the night, to transcend death, to charm motorways, to ingratiate ourselves with birds, to enlist the confidences of madmen.
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Old 12-28-2015   #49
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Re: Arthur Machen

Hmm. No hurry then, as it sounds like it's around the same quality as his other later horror tales.

I am enjoying The Terror a lot more this time around as I'm taking it slowly in small chunks. It is quite a cleverly constructed tale in how its narrative is itself a commentary on journalism, whilst also being a device to add verisimilitude. It would have been a very frightening thing to read in the paper in its original form.

'I believe in what the Germans term Ehrfurcht: reverence for things one cannot understand.'
― Robert Aickman, An Essay
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Old 03-17-2016   #50
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Re: Arthur Machen

After putting it off for ages, i've finally read The Terror, and it was much better than i had expected. I once started out reading at the end (don't ask), where of course the dénouement is, and although Machen's central argument carries some weight for me, it spoiled wanting to find out how the story gets there.
But the landscape descriptions are vivid, and Machen has, much like G. K. Chesterton, a knack for describing the uncommon as normal & vice versa.

"What can a thing do with a thing, when it is a thing?"
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