It was, supposedly, after the first of his dinners with Wilde at the Florence, in the summer of 1890, that Machen resolved to try his hand at “modern” fiction (not long before, under the combined influence of Rabelais, Balzac and Marguerite de Navarre, he had produced his “Welsh Heptameron”, the faux-medieval Chronicle of Clemendy). This was the beginning of his decade mirabilis; before the century came to a close he had written, if not published, nearly all of the pioneering supernatural fiction for which he is remembered today. These stories are imbued with a potent sense of the places documented in Occult Territories, above all Machen’s native Caerleon and the “grey labyrinth” of London. Many of them are shaped by a second influence as well, namely Machen’s immersion in a wide range of esoteric literature in the 1880s, when he was hired by the bookseller George Redway to compile a substantial annotated catalogue (The Literature of Occultism and Archaeology).
Thursday, January 9, 2020
The TLS on Arthur Machen
There is a very interesting review-essay on Arthur Machen in the TLS here. It's by Aaron Worth, who edited the recent Oxford University Press Machen volume, The Great God Pan and Other Horror Stories. An excerpt: