The Great God Pan & The Inmost Light by Arthur Machen


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John Lane, The Bodley Head, 1894. First edition, first impression.190 pages, 22 pages of adverts in the back. Cover illustration & title page designed by Aubrey Beardsley. Rare and highly desirable in any condition, Arthur Machen's classic work of fiction; a cornerstone of horror literature. Original darkened-cloth boards, illustrated with Beardsley's depiction of Pan with flutes through the vines, gilt title on spine with key symbol on back. Two small white markings present on cover, corners &edges rubbed, cloth slightly darkened in places, shelf-wear evident on top and bottom of side boards. A small number of pages at the beginning of the book are slightly loosened, however still attached, binding is intact. Pages mostly clean with only minor usage marks present. A good, attractive copy of a rare title.

'The Great God Pan is a novella by Welsh writer Arthur Machen. A version of the story was published in the magazine The Whirlwind in 1890, and Machen revised and extended it for its book publication (together with another story, "The Inmost Light") in 1894. On publication it was widely denounced by the press as degenerate and horrific because of its decadent style and sexual content, but it has since garnered a reputation as a classic of horror. Machen’s story was only one of many at the time to focus on the Greek God Pan as a useful symbol for the power of nature and paganism. The title was possibly inspired by the poem "A Musical Instrument" published in 1862 by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, in which the first line of every stanza ends "... the great god Pan".

The book also includes 'The Inmost Light', one of Arthur Machen's most disturbing stories. The plot involves a doctor's scientific experiments into occultism, and the vampiric force instigated by his unrelenting curiosity regarding the unseen elements. A large and glorious gem-stone is the vampiric mediator; soaking up the soul of the doctor's wife; in the place of her spirit a demonic energy too-terrible-to-believe enters, transmuting her brain into that of something "not human".

Stephen King has called The Great God Pan, "Maybe the best (horror story) in the English language".

Arthur Machen was a Welsh writer who was instrumental in the development supernatural fiction. He created a unique literary world; a realm of old Gods, faerie, and uncanny yet transcendental landscapes. His sensibilities were imprinted on the psyche of horror, fantasy and supernatural storytelling for the rest of the century.'