Machen was inspired to write The Great God Pan by his experiences at the ruins of a pagan temple in Wales. What would become the first chapter of the novella was published in the magazine The Whirlwind in The novella begins with an experiment to allow a woman named Mary to see the supernatural world. This is followed by an account of a series of mysterious happenings and deaths over many years surrounding a woman named Helen Vaughan.
At the end, the heroes confront Helen and force her to kill herself. She undergoes a series of supernatural transformations before dying and she is revealed to be the child of Mary and the god Pan. On publication, it was widely denounced by the press as degenerate and horrific because of its implied sexual content, and the novella hurt Machen's reputation as an author.
See a Problem?
Beginning in the s, Machen's work was critically re-evaluated and The Great God Pan has since garnered a reputation as a classic of horror. Literary critics have noted the influence of other nineteenth-century authors on The Great God Pan and offered differing opinions on whether or not it can be considered an example of Gothic fiction or science fiction.
The novella has influenced the work of horror writers such as Bram Stoker , H.
Lovecraft , and Stephen King , and has been adapted for the stage twice. Clarke agrees, somewhat unwillingly, to bear witness to a strange experiment performed by his friend, Dr. The ultimate goal of the doctor is to open the mind of someone so that he may experience the spiritual world, an experience he notes the ancients called "seeing the great god Pan ".
The Great God Pan
He performs the experiment, which involves minor brain surgery, on a young woman named Mary. She awakens from the operation awed and terrified but quickly becomes "a hopeless idiot". Years later, Clarke learns of a beautiful but sinister girl named Helen Vaughan, who is reported to have caused a series of mysterious happenings in her town.
She spends much of her time in the woods near her house, and takes other children on prolonged twilight rambles in the countryside that disturb the parents of the town. One day, a young boy stumbles across her "playing on the grass with a 'strange naked man, ' "; the boy becomes hysterical and later, after seeing a Roman statue of a satyr 's head, becomes permanently feeble-minded. Helen also forms an unusually close friendship with a neighbour girl, Rachel, whom she leads several times into the woods.
On one occasion Rachel returns home distraught, half-naked and rambling.
Shortly after explaining to her mother what happened to her never revealed in the story , Rachel returns to the woods and disappears forever. Clarke relates these events in a book he is writing entitled Memoirs to Prove the Existence of the Devil.
Weird Fiction Arthur Machen, 'The Great God Pan'
Years later, Villiers happens across his old friend Herbert, who has become a vagrant since they last met.
When asked how he has fallen so low, Herbert replies that he has been "corrupted body and soul" by his wife. After some investigation with Clarke and another character, Austin, it is revealed that Helen was Herbert's wife, and that a well-to-do man died "of fright, of sheer, awful terror" after seeing something in Herbert and Helen's home.
Herbert is later found dead. Helen disappears for some time; according to rumor, she spent the time taking part in disturbing orgies somewhere in the Americas.
She eventually returns to London under the pseudonym Mrs. Soon after, a group of stable, happy men in London commit suicide; the last person known to have been in the presence of each of them was Mrs.
Beaumont, whom they are implied to have slept with. Villiers and Clarke, each learning of Mrs. Beaumont's true identity, band together and confront Helen in her house with a noose.
They tell her that she must kill herself, or they will expose her. Helen has a very abnormal death, transforming between human and beast, male and female, and dividing and reuniting, before turning into a jelly-like substance and finally dying. This is followed by a fragment of a document about the remains of a pillar honoring the Celtic god Nodens. The Latin inscription on the column reads, "To the great god Nodens the god of the Great Deep or Abyss , Flavius Senilis has erected this pillar on account of the marriage which he saw beneath the shade.
The novella ends with a fragment of a letter from Dr. Raymond to Clarke, which reveals that Helen was the child of Mary, who died shortly after her daughter's birth. In the letter, Raymond informs Clarke that Mary became pregnant after his experiment caused her to see the god Pan, implying that Pan fathered Helen. Machen's lifelong fascination with occultism began after he read an article on alchemy in an edition of Charles Dickens 's periodical Household Words belonging to his father, a clergyman.
In writing the novella, he tried to "pass on the vague, indefinable sense of awe and mystery and terror that [he] had received" while visiting those ruins. What is now the first chapter of the novella was published in in a magazine called The Whirlwind , while what is now the third chapter of the book was published in the same magazine the following year as a standalone short story called "The City of Resurrections".
Machen only viewed the two works as connected after they were finished. Once he decided the two stories were connected, Machen wrote the rest of The Great God Pan in a single evening save for its final chapter. Machen did not think of an ending for the tale for months, and in that time believed that the novella would remain unfinished forever. The last chapter was completed in June Machen sent the novella to the publisher Blackwood , who rejected it, deeming it a clever story that "shrink[s] Raymond as a mad scientist, but it cannot be seen as an example of the genre as it posits that occultism is superior to science.
Pan was an ancient Greek god primarily worshipped in Arcadia who was associated with shepherds and their flocks, and with nature.
Arthur machen great god pan pdf
This story had particular resonance with Victorian literary audiences. Raymond as a mad scientist akin to Victor Frankenstein. Tibbetts observes similarities between Helen Vaughan and Ayesha, the sexually liberated demonic priestess from H. Upon reading the two novels, Machen concluded that "my critics had not read them either. The novella is characteristic of a late nineteenth-century interest in paganism in general and Pan in particular that is found in the works of Florence Farr and Kenneth Grahame.
Rather than proceeding from paganism to Christianity , as orthodox Victorian belief imagined the progress of history, she is a reversal of time, the revenge of the atavistic.
Et Homo Factus Est. And was made man. The Great God Pan 's implied sexuality caused a scandal upon its original release and hurt Machen's reputation as an author.
Aubrey Beardsley has prefaced the story". Machen's literary reputation was re-evaluated in the s  and The Great God Pan has since attained the reputation of a horror masterpiece.
Lovecraft praised the story, saying: "No one could begin to describe the cumulative suspense and ultimate horror with which every paragraph abounds"; he added that "the sensitive reader" reaches the end with "an appreciative shudder".
Lovecraft also noted, however, that "melodrama is undeniably present, and coincidence is stretched to a length which appears absurd upon analysis". Bennett Cerf described the story as a "masterpiece". Maybe the best in the English language.
It's not simple, and yet it's effective, more so than can easily be explained. Some commentary on The Great God Pan has focused on its portrayal of women.
The great god Pan, and, The inmost light
Surridge sees the novella as expressing a fear of women even though the ultimate source of horror in the story is a male deity. Both suggest that Machen is an author of "limited imagination," with the latter depicting him as a mad scientist unleashing degenerate literature on an unsuspecting public. It was adapted and directed by WildClaw artistic director Charley Sherman. Helen's Story was written from a feminist perspective and nominated for a Shirley Jackson Award.
Unusually for a composer, Crean wrote the opera's libretto himself.
A recording of the work was released in Black Gate 's Matthew David Surridge said that The Great God Pan influenced Bram Stoker 's Dracula as both works feature "an introductory sequence featuring a horrified Englishman in a non-English setting; then a variety of seemingly-unconnected events in London, the metropole at the heart of Empire; then the discovery that all those events are in fact inspired by one malign and supernatural intelligence, that the rational contemporary capital is threatened by the irrational and archaic; then an equivocal conclusion.
The fear of sex, women, foreignness. The Great God Pan was highly influential on the circle of writers around H. According to Lovecraft scholar Robert M. Price , " ' The Dunwich Horror' is in every sense an homage to Machen and even a pastiche.
There is little in Lovecraft's wonderful story that does not come directly out of Machen's fiction. Clark Ashton Smith was inspired by The Great God Pan to write his story "The Nameless Offspring" , which also features a monstrous child born of a human and a supernatural entity. Tumnus from C. Lewis 's The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Stephen King wrote that his novella N.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
For the sculpture, see The Great God Pan sculpture. Decadent fantasy literature Gothic horror science fiction. Black Gate. Archived from the original on July 29, Retrieved July 28, The Independent.
Retrieved July 29, David Pringle. London: St.
James Press. The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. April 27, Archived from the original on February 1, Retrieved August 18, The Eugene O'Neill Review. Archived from the original on August 10,