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Old 06-03-2015   #11
Michael
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Re: Arthur Machen

Quote Originally Posted by Frater_Tsalal View Post
Yeah, I really need to read more of his work today. So far all I've read is his The Hill of Dreams novel (which I rank as one of my favorite novels ever) and the Tartarus Press edition of Tales of the Horror and the Supernatural. I found that latter one hit or miss... always thought that "The Great God Pan" was a little overrated for some reason (I had previously read Kenneth Grant describing it as one of the most horrific stories ever written, so maybe there was a bit too much hype going into it for me). I agree that when he's on, he's on, though.

I found it amusing that Mark Samuels told me he loved all of Machen's work, even The Anatomy of Tobacco!
I think I had an advantage in that I heard nothing about Machen before running into The Great God Pan in Wagner and Wise's anthology (one of my top 10 best birthday presents of all time). I think it was precisely because I hadn't heard anything about Machen (not a lot of Machen fans in West Texas) that it blew me away. I think if it had been hyped up I would have thought it was okay (that's what happened to me when I finally read Robert E Howard; it had been so hyped up I thought it was okay at best). Agree with James on his list. Think he got the definitive Machen list spot on. Gotta part company with Mark Samuels; some of the stuff Machen wrote missed for me but when he connected, he hit like hell.
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Old 06-03-2015   #12
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Re: Arthur Machen

As much as I love "The Great God Pan", I agree that it's over-hyped -- through no fault of its own. Stephen King set the bar impossibly high when he declared it "The greatest horror story ever written in the English language."

Which only makes me wonder: Did King ever read "The White People?" Because that's Machen at his very best IMO. The way he twisted fantasy into horror to create a sort of nightmare version of the Arthurian Otherworld and then had the balls to insinuate it through the eyes of a child was - and remains to this day - profoundly haunting. And as someone else pointed out... Machen's meditation on the nature of evil really sticks!

"Holiness works on lines that were natural once, and is an effort to recover the ecstasy that was before the Fall. But sin is an effort to gain the ecstasy and the knowledge that pertain alone to angels... The saint endeavours to recover that which he has lost; while the sinner tries to obtain something which was never his to begin with."

Lines like the above will be forever etched into my memory.
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Old 06-04-2015   #13
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Re: Arthur Machen

Quote Originally Posted by James Sucellus View Post
As well as the necessary awe and terror for a weird tale to be great, I like that added sense of sadness those authors also bring. I'd like to find more writers like that, as amazing as Machen, Blackwood and Lovecraft are.
Excellent commentary, James. When it comes to crafting a truly effective weird tale, evoking sadness may be as equally important as illiciting awe and terror. But I think a lot of that ultimately comes down to the individual personalities of the authors themselves.

Take Poe and Lovecraft for examples. Both pessimists IMO but clearly different in their approach. Poe was reluctantly pessimistic. Like so many other victims of fate, he was pushed towards it by the tragedies in his life. Hence, the tremendous sorrow which seems to prevail in nearly all his works.

Lovecraft on the other hand... well... my half-cocked theory is that he was simply born that way-- with a pre-disposition to despise most things, including himself. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if during one of his fits of self-loathing he wrote himself into The Dunwich Horror as it's chief antagonist, Wilbur Whateley. Who knows?

Which brings me to Machen - and to lesser extent, Blackwood - who were both optimists in comparison, each with personalities more stable than those of Poe or Lovecraft. I'll make the point that Machen remained to his dying breath a hopeful Christian spiritualist. That being said, if you're familiar with any of his non-horror writing [like his stories involving the Holy Grail] then you can maybe see that he approached even his most horrible mysteries with a sense of sacredly informed wonder.

With Blackwood, though, it's not so easy to pin-point. Out of the four authors, he was certainly the most nuanced, in both his beliefs and his writing, having dabbled in a wide array of genres and pursued various schools of new age thought. I think a lot of his subject matter was ahead of its time, especially The Willows, whose thought-hopping inter-dimensional antagonists were once -- thanks to a bag of gold-capped psychedelic mushrooms I took back in college-- made very, VERY real to me. Which totally leads me to think he was tripping balls when he wrote that tale haha.

James, if you happen to re-read Pan, be sure to let us know how it goes.
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Old 06-04-2015   #14
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Re: Arthur Machen

Hodgson at times can express loneliness and isolation better than any other writer I know. Check out "The Call in the Dawn" or The House on the Borderland.
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Old 06-04-2015   #15
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Re: Arthur Machen

Alright James and VanEaston011, you gone and done it. I gotta go back reread Machen. There goes my weekend
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Old 06-05-2015   #16
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Re: Arthur Machen

Quote Originally Posted by Michael View Post
Alright James and VanEaston011, you gone and done it. I gotta go back reread Machen. There goes my weekend
Well, after all this talk I said 'screw it' and had to begin a new thread catered specifically to "The Great God Pan".
Check it out here:
http://www.ligotti.net/showthread.ph...278#post115278

But if you wish to discuss either "The Three Impostors" or "The White People" on there, too, it's just as well.
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Old 06-06-2015   #17
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Re: Arthur Machen

What I always loved about Machen, besides his weird fiction stories, was how his short story The Bowmen created the Angels of Mons legend:

Angels_of_Mons Angels_of_Mons


It was a different time, people were more gullible, and, fortunately, more easy to be surprised and awed, like it happened with the Cottingley Fairies, for example:

Cottingley_Fairies Cottingley_Fairies

Your fall should be like the fall of mountains. But I was before mountains. I was in the beginning, and shall be forever. The first and the last. The world come full circle. I am not the wheel. I am the hand that turns the wheel. I am Time, the Destroyer. I was the wind and the stars before this. Before planets. Before heaven and hell. And when all is done, I will be wind again, to blow this world as dust back into endless space. To me the coming and going of Man is as nothing.
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Old 06-27-2015   #18
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Re: Arthur Machen

Halfway through The Terror. Quite boring and clumsy so far. Unsure why Joshi included this in the Penguins Classic collection instead of The Great God Pan. Any fans here?

'I believe in what the Germans term Ehrfurcht: reverence for things one cannot understand.'
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Old 06-27-2015   #19
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Re: Arthur Machen

I would recommend for anyone who likes Machen to read N, a short story/novella by Stephen King inspired by him. It was also adapted as an online animated series and as a 4-issue comic book miniseries, and both are pretty great too.

Your fall should be like the fall of mountains. But I was before mountains. I was in the beginning, and shall be forever. The first and the last. The world come full circle. I am not the wheel. I am the hand that turns the wheel. I am Time, the Destroyer. I was the wind and the stars before this. Before planets. Before heaven and hell. And when all is done, I will be wind again, to blow this world as dust back into endless space. To me the coming and going of Man is as nothing.
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Old 06-28-2015   #20
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Re: Arthur Machen

Quote Originally Posted by James Sucellus View Post
Halfway through The Terror. Quite boring and clumsy so far. Unsure why Joshi included this in the Penguins Classic collection instead of The Great God Pan. Any fans here?
I agree, "The Terror" is weak sauce for sure. I think the reason it's received the recognition it has over the years is because many have acknowledged it as the first significant foray by an author into the eco-horror genre and the influence it's said to have had on Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds". I can definitely see comparisons between its set-up/structure and what's found in many modern horror/disaster/epidemic type films. But the book was also really popular in its day and I can certainly see its appeal to the masses at the time it was published (1917).

Overall, I think "The Terror" was a good idea but poorly executed and lacking in Machen's usual poetic tongue.
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