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On publication it was widely denounced by the press as degenerate and horrific because of its decadent style and sexual content although it has since garnered a reputation as a classic of horror Machen’s story was only one of many at the. My favored definition of wisdom has always been a recognition of one s limits and as such wisdom is vital for writers When an author knows their capabilities and their flaws they are in prime position to write a story which takes advantage of their strengths and mitigates their weaknessesYet what is preferable for an artist to stay within the bounds of their skill or to work to always to exceed them The first sort will be able to create precise and deliberate works of mastery while the latter can produce wild and intense works of vision All authors experiment and take risks while writing should such experiments be left in even when are not entirely successfulThere are works like Moby Dick which are masterpieces precisely because they are full of numerous unusual experiments not all of which were effective Many critics are hesitant to praise works which are grand yet incomplete stitching together many wild ideas and disparate techniues to create a vision which is powerful and inspirational despite being conflictedIn fantastical genres it is perhaps an even central uestion since they are so dependent on the strength of idiomatic vision Perhaps the clearest illustration of the importance of that creative force is the vast influence of pulp authors Their style was defined by unbridled exploration and a thirst for new ideas They went headlong into the fray without pretension for authors who erred on the side of caution tended to be left behind What they lacked in style character and plot they tried to overcome with an abundance of ideasIn horror the line between restraint and unfettered creativity is usually defined by what the author chooses to describe and what is left to the reader s imagination As many a skilled writer has demonstrated the reader is often better at scaring themselves if the setup is strong enough The strongest example may be when the author begins to describe some terror then breaks off with but it was too horrific for words to describe too awful to comprehend too shocking for the mere mortal mind to revisit Though many authors particularly of the Victorian use this techniue I tend to associate it with Lovecraft It has been a running joke in my writing circle that Lovecraft s monsters are not actually that terrifying it s just that his protagonists are so nervous and sensitive as to be totally unnerved even by the least impMachen uses this techniue throughout the story leaving much of the action implied so that we must piece together the reality from the occasional detail His constant drawing back from actual descriptions helps to remind the reader that for the purposes of a story what the Thing looks like or what it is capable of are not fundamental to the story itself The story is about people about their reactions and the progression of events and if the structure is strong there is no need to explicate the monsterMachen s writing is competent and precise he does not give in to the purple prose and long internal monologues which typify Lovecraft nor does he trudge along workmanlike in the manner of Stoker The gradual unfolding of the story and its mysteries is artful and the uneasy tone consistentYet there are problematic aspects The characters are not vivid or well differentiated which makes them difficult to connect with and the story harder to follow We are often casting about between different individuals and their experiences and since they all speak in a similar voice and have similar backgrounds it can be a task to keep them apartAnd while the gradual unfolding of the action is enjoyable the structure is somewhat imprecise going back and forth and sometimes repeating itself Though Stoker was rough and guileless and Lovecraft often overwrought at least they both focused on the central motivations and desires of their characters throughoutDespite these flaws it isn t difficult to see why horror authors from Lovecraft to King have cited this story as an influence and have worked to recreate its haunting slow burning build

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The Great God Pan

Time to focus on Pan as a useful symbol for the power of nature and paganism The title was taken from the poem A Musical Instrument published in 1862 by Elizabeth Barrett Browning in which the first line of every stanza ends the great god P. ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy LiteratureWritten in 1894 Arthur Machen s The Great God Pan is a short novel which was highly influential to HP Lovecraft and Stephen King King in fact said The Great God Pan is one of the best horror stories ever written Maybe the best in the English language Mine isn t anywhere near that good The Great God Pan used to be hard to find but is now available free on the Kindle and at other public domain e book outlets and is easily read in one dark and rainy eveningThe first few pages of The Great God Pan describe Mr Clarke s visit to his friend Dr Raymond After many years of study Dr Raymond has theorized that the spirit world is all around us but that humans are unable to perceive it because of the particular set up of our sensory systems Thus he hypothesizes that a small lesion in the cortex of the brain a slight adjustment of our normal functioning will lift the veil so that we can perceive the supernatural The Greeks called this seeing the Great God Pan Dr Raymond invites Mr Clarke into his laboratory where he is ready to perform this operation on Mary a beautiful teenage girl who he saved from the streets years before and who in his thinking owes him her life The operation appears to be unsuccessful or at least Mary turns out to be incapable of describing her perceptions because she has become an idiot The rest of the story is Mr Clarke s collection of accounts of unexplained suicides and strange deaths apparently from shock and terror in London society and his gradual suspicion that there is some connection between these deaths and Dr Raymond s failed experiment The horrible things he hears about happen in private many appear to be sexual in nature so he can t report the specifics for any of them Eerie tension and a creeping horror arise as the reader fills in the unknown with fears from his or her own imaginationIt s disappointing that the writing style of The Great God Pan isn t as exuisite as the terror is but it s pleasant enough and completely readable over 100 years later The Great God Pan is a must read for any fan of horror fiction not the bloody gruesome type of horror but the brain bending soul scaring type

Arthur Machen Å 4 review

The Great God Pan is a novella written by Arthur Machen A version of the story was published in the magazine Whirlwind in 1890 and Machen revised and extended it for its book publication together with another story The Inmost Light in 1894. As good as advertised called by Stephen King to be perhaps the greatest horror story in English Not sure about that but I can see how influential this may have been Really weird and has allusions to myth First published in 1890 this is after Poe but before Lovecraft creating something of a bridge between masters of the horror genreThis has all the elements of a great story and created a benchmark for what makes a horror story


10 thoughts on “The Great God Pan

  1. says:

    Reading this book was a bit like eating a salad made with bottled dressing instead of one made with virgin olive oil view spoileris there such thing as experienced olive oil? Does Olive do something naughty with Popeye we are never told about? All that spinach makes a man you know strong maybe she couldn't resis

  2. says:

    Whatever the hell was going on with the society when this was published This a sensation? Underwhelming Thank God I live now not then I would have died bored out of my mindToo whimsical for me Reads like a cross of Hawthorne with Poe with just a tad of Lovecraft who might have been a diligent follower of Machen at a later date and several notes from Merezhkovsky of all autors added into the mix Though in the c

  3. says:

    As good as advertised called by Stephen King to be perhaps the greatest horror story in English Not sure about that but I can see how influential this may have been Really weird and has allusions to myth First published in 1890 this i

  4. says:

    My favored definition of wisdom has always been 'a recognition of one's limits' and as such wisdom is vital for writers When an author knows their capabilities and their flaws they are in prime position to write a story which takes advantage of their strengths and mitigates their weaknessesYet what is preferable

  5. says:

    The Great God Pan is a succinct gem of horror and mystery; a kind of spiritual variation on classic tales of lycanthropy; though its

  6. says:

    Read for ClassI'm glad I had to re read this for the final because it's definitely not a 2 star read like my previous rating

  7. says:

    For Reasons a guy named Raymond wants to experiment on putting a person into some sort of altered state Mary was like super poor and

  8. says:

    ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy LiteratureWritten in 1894 Arthur Machen’s The Great God Pan is a short novel which was highly influential to HP Lovecraft and Stephen King King in fact said The Great God Pan is “one of the best horror stories ever written Maybe the best in the English language Mine isn’t anywhere near that good” The Great God Pan used to be hard to find but is now available free on the K

  9. says:

    This was a strange little story sold as paganism with a touch of sexuality It had a supernatural feel that left me holding my breath in anticipation Unfortunately due to the confusing nature of the book it also left me holding my head in confus

  10. says:

    The Great God Pan is one of Arthur Machen's earliest works and also his most popular Upon release it was widely d