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Steve Jensen (Stevej)
Username: Stevej

Registered: 07-2009
Posted From: 82.0.77.233
Posted on Tuesday, September 29, 2009 - 06:59 pm:   

...with brief mentions of the BFS, Tartarus Press etc:


Arthur Machen might be little read today, but his ideas lie at the heart
of modern horror writers Stephen King and Clive Barker...


Full article here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2009/sep/29/arthur-machen-tartarus-pre ss
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Huw (Huw)
Username: Huw

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 218.168.183.181
Posted on Tuesday, September 29, 2009 - 07:15 pm:   

That is an excellent little article, on the whole. Nice to see Machen getting some attention. Are you a member of FOAM, Steve, by any chance?
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Steve Jensen (Stevej)
Username: Stevej

Registered: 07-2009
Posted From: 82.0.77.233
Posted on Tuesday, September 29, 2009 - 07:19 pm:   

I've only just 'discovered' him, Huw. My dad bought me 'The Hill of Dreams' years ago but I never got 'round to reading it, sadly. I was happy to find this...

http://arthursclassicnovels.com/arthurs/horror.html#machen

...the other day, a site which has plenty of free fiction by Machen and other greats. :-)
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Huw (Huw)
Username: Huw

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 218.168.183.181
Posted on Tuesday, September 29, 2009 - 07:32 pm:   

I envy you, Steve! Your dad is clearly a man of superlative taste - 'The Hill of Dreams' is a treasure of a book. There are some terrific stories in that link - hope you enjoy them. 'The White People', in particular, is a masterpiece. FOAM is The Friends of Arthur Machen, by the way. If you find yourself becoming more and more interested in AM, you might want to consider joining. It's a great little society.
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Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 78.22.230.15
Posted on Tuesday, September 29, 2009 - 07:42 pm:   

I'm particularly fond of "The Inmost Light", "The Novel of the White Powder", "N" and "The Great God Pan". I don't know why the glimpse of the tortured soul behind the window in 'Inmost Light" so disturbed me when I first read it. For some reason it's one of Machen's images I recall most vividly. A pity "N" is not included in that link, for I daresay it's one of his most powerful stories.
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Huw (Huw)
Username: Huw

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 218.168.180.86
Posted on Tuesday, September 29, 2009 - 08:19 pm:   

I agree, Hubert. I reread 'N' frequently, it's a wonderful enigma of a tale with truly visionary elements. 'Opening the Door' and 'Ritual' are two relatively little-known stories that I really enjoyed. His books of articles and prose poems are full of treasures, too.
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Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 78.22.230.15
Posted on Tuesday, September 29, 2009 - 09:28 pm:   

I don't think I've seen those. I do have a well-worn copy of the Dover edition of The Hill of Dreams and a host of chapbooks, as well as a biography - I forget the title.

"The White People" to me is like a litany or an incantation. I strongly suspect reading it a number of times endows one with visionary - if not occult - powers. A ridiculous notion, I know.
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 91.110.223.140
Posted on Tuesday, September 29, 2009 - 10:11 pm:   

If I had to name one writer of weird fiction as the most original and talented in the genre's history, it would be Machen. He blows open your sense of what the genre is capable of in terms of theme, atmosphere and emotional challenge.

Hubert, I think 'The White People' affects quite a few people in that way. I think some critic said it seemed to be not just a story about the supernatural but a genuine record of it, something that could not exist without a weird source. Of course, as a skilled journalist, Machen was a master of making his fictions feel like non-fiction documents but in 'The White People' there's something even beyond that, an idiom that requires the reader to reconstruct what the child narrator has already internalised. It speaks a dialect of the unconscious for which no translation is possible.

'The White People' succeeds brilliantly despite being locked into a tedious structure that Machen used several times: the story is framed by a lengthy Socratic dialogue in which Two High Church Queens Talk Bollocks.

'The Inmost Light' is my personal favourite of Machen's stories, because of what the vision of the face at the window and the final, exquisite paragraph do to you in combination. It's both horrifying and tragic.

Machen is the master of ontological horror: the horror of a blighted reality, of a nightmare state of being, rather than the horror of what might come and get you.
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Allybird (Allybird)
Username: Allybird

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 80.47.198.192
Posted on Tuesday, September 29, 2009 - 10:16 pm:   

'Machen is the master of ontological horror: the horror of a blighted reality, of a nightmare state of being, rather than the horror of what might come and get you.'

Agreed - an absolute master.
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Allybird (Allybird)
Username: Allybird

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 80.47.198.192
Posted on Tuesday, September 29, 2009 - 10:20 pm:   

Very much in mind (amongst other sources) when I was writing Bull Running
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_White_People
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Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 78.22.230.15
Posted on Tuesday, September 29, 2009 - 10:40 pm:   

It speaks a dialect of the unconscious for which no translation is possible.

I think part of it has to do with the straightforwardness and innocence of the principal narrator. One instinctively senses she is not lying, and there's a sadness as well, for apparently she does not fully comprehend what is happening to her. Her story has the ring of a fairytale to it, and like all good fairytales there is a very grim undertone . . .
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Steve Jensen (Stevej)
Username: Stevej

Registered: 07-2009
Posted From: 82.0.77.233
Posted on Tuesday, September 29, 2009 - 10:55 pm:   

Reading all the above, very evocatively described by the way, I was reminded that Machen wrote about a distinctive and mysterious mound named Twmbarlwm (or 'Twyn Barlwm'), which is right above where I live in South Wales:

'As soon as I saw anything I saw Twyn Barlwm, that mystic tumulus, the memorial of peoples that dwelt in that region before the Celts left the Land of Summer.'

The hill resembles the classical UFO shape; indeed, there have been many sighting of such craft there.

Twmbarlwm was once thought to be the burial place of Augustus, Roman Governor of Britain, along with his horse and 'treasure' (it's actually the remains of an Iron Age fort). For decades (perhaps centuries?), locals believed that a giant was buried within the mound.

It's a place of mystery...children have gone missing over the years (not recently, I hope) after being charmed by curious music, drifting on the breeze; massive swarms of bees are supposed to 'guard' the place, and even to battle each other, for some strange reason; there are old stories of murder by unknown assailants, which took place in a ruined house near the summit; another house was supposedly 'swallowed up' by the mountain, after it's owners turned away a starving relative; annnnd finally, after the longest sentence in history (lol), there's a valley nearby colloquially-named 'The Valley of the Judges', into which druids cast wrongdoers (apparently ancient bones were once found amongst the rocks there). There are plenty of other stories too, of course...it's a truly haunted place. I read on Wikipedia that, apparently, young people hold a vigil on Twmbarlwm each Good Friday...there really is nothing new under the sun.

I know the above isn't strictly relevant to the discussion of Machen's work as such, but living in the shadow of the mountain range, I feel that Machen was right to think that the past is as real as the present.
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Steve Jensen (Stevej)
Username: Stevej

Registered: 07-2009
Posted From: 82.0.77.233
Posted on Tuesday, September 29, 2009 - 11:12 pm:   

Oh, and a local abbey is rumoured to have been the home of the Holy Grail
and the fabled San Graal manuscript. Eat your heart out, Dan Brown.
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Zed (Gary_mc)
Username: Gary_mc

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.96.240.106
Posted on Tuesday, September 29, 2009 - 11:33 pm:   

Because of this thread, I've just re-read 'The Inmost Light', and it is indeed a wonderful story. The writing at the end reaches a sort of fever pitch of tragic horror. Marvellous.
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Steve Jensen (Stevej)
Username: Stevej

Registered: 07-2009
Posted From: 82.0.77.233
Posted on Tuesday, September 29, 2009 - 11:55 pm:   

I'm just reading The White People now...it's strange, but I feel that there's something within or 'beneath' the text, an unseen language of some kind. Like the White Goddess theories of the poet Robert Graves, there's (perhaps) something here which, if not historically true, is mythically true in a manner which defies the pedantic business of mainstream historical definition.
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Huw (Huw)
Username: Huw

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 218.168.183.91
Posted on Wednesday, September 30, 2009 - 07:23 am:   

Do you live in Caerleon, Steve? I stopped off there to have lunch last time I went back to Wales, on my way to the old family home in Dyfed. It's a lovely place, and I hope to go back there one day and explore it properly (what I wouldn't give to be able to visit it in the late nineteenth century, as Machen describes it in Far Off Things).

Hubert, 'Opening the Door' can be found in Machen's Penguin collection Holy Terrors, and 'Ritual' is in the Tartarus collection of the same title. It was also included in the Purple Mouth Press edition of Guinevere and Lancelot and Others, which collects various hard-to-find Machen pieces. I don't have my Machen bibliography to hand right now (I've just moved), so I can't recall where it originally appeared.

It's always heartening to see Machen mentined in the papers or in a book - his name seems to pop up in the most unexpected places. I doubt he will ever be as widely known as he deserves, but feel sure that he will continue to attract readers of a like disposition, which has been the case for over a century now.
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.157.22.201
Posted on Wednesday, September 30, 2009 - 08:09 am:   

Ha! You slipped an ad in at the end of those posts, Ally!
'But this success would turn sour when his association with genre fiction made it impossible to find a publisher for his writing as it grew in sophistication'
Sounds like little has changed.
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Huw (Huw)
Username: Huw

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 218.168.183.91
Posted on Wednesday, September 30, 2009 - 08:30 am:   

I just wish more people would read something by Machen other than what is in Tales of Horror & the Supernatural. Undoubtedly the core of his supernatural horror output is to be found there, but he wrote so much else that is worthy of attention. Anyone here read Ornaments in Jade? It's a masterpiece of evocative, dreamlike prose. He was prolific, and not everything he wrote was of the same high standard as 'The White People' or 'The Three Imposters' (but what is, really?), but everything he wrote is, to me, well worth reading, always containing some kernel of magic.
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John Llewellyn Probert (John_l_probert)
Username: John_l_probert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 213.253.174.81
Posted on Wednesday, September 30, 2009 - 08:39 am:   

I've just joined FOAM & Lady P and I will be at the next AGM, which is being held in my home town of Abergavenny a couple of weeks before World Horror next year. I'm particularly looking forward to the planned music recital!

The last time I went to Caerleon you no longer had to pay to get into the amphitheatre and it was in a dreadful state - covered in rubbish and overrun with schoolchildren eating their lunches.
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Huw (Huw)
Username: Huw

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 218.168.183.91
Posted on Wednesday, September 30, 2009 - 09:17 am:   

Oh no! I haven't been back for years, and didn't have more than an hour or so to look around, so I didn't get to see more than a few of the Roman remains (which I paid for!) but it was a lovely day and we enjoyed our picnic beside the Usk.

Good for you and Lady P! How about putting 'The Great God Pan' to music, John?

I still hope to make it to an AGM one day. Perhaps if they held it in St Davids...
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Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 78.22.230.15
Posted on Wednesday, September 30, 2009 - 11:30 am:   

The last time I went to Caerleon you no longer had to pay to get into the amphitheatre and it was in a dreadful state - covered in rubbish and overrun with schoolchildren eating their lunches.

A dreadful state of affairs . . . I suppose this amphitheatre is easy enough to find once one is in the Caerleon area?

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