Machen himself deeply admired the macabre work of Poe and Hawthorne and regarded Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw as the finest of all ghost stories. Like these giants of American literature, he wouldn’t have labeled himself a “horror” writer, even if The Three Impostors, or The Transmutations (1895) could scare Arthur Conan Doyle, who called its author a “genius.” In The Great God Pan (1894) and a succession of short stories, Machen hinted at the continued power of pre-Christian deities—such as Nodens, the god of the abyss—or posited the survival of a primordial and malevolent race of hominids, now lurking in Welsh hills and caves. In his later work, however, he often set aside numinous dread to explore instead the spiritual and transcendental.* But whether focusing on the bestial or the beatific, Machen’s fiction always suggests that there’s more to reality than meets the eye, if we could just—to use a fin de siècle phrase—Rend the Veil.
Writer - Critic - Poet - Editor