Adventures in Words: The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen

The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen

A literary sensation when it came out, Arthur Machen’s The Great God Pan was not quite what I expected. Yes, it shares some of the lurid prose as well as the tendency to drop off writing and add ellipses (…) when things start getting especially lurid of much other Victorian melodrama but then the stuff Machen is alluding to probably is better elided rather than spelled out. What I had not expected was the complexity of the narrative, with the point of view, time span and even the prose shifting during the course of the book. Perhaps I should have expected that – after all, Stevenson plays with points of view in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – but for some reason I had not. As such, the book requires a bit more thought and concentration than usual but it will repay the effort: this story really did push horror into the 20th century.


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