Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Great God Pan

Today I am doing a book review of a classic tale of horror titled, "The Great God Pan" by Arthur Machen. It was a book I had been meaning to read for many years and finally got around to it, and I am thankful that I did.

The tale is set in England and shows Dr. Raymond proceeding with an experiment on a young woman, Mary, in order for her to see the great god Pan. His experiment both succeeds and fails as Mary is able to see Pan, but is left in a deep psychosis from which she never comes out of. There is a businessman, Mr. Clarke, who is present for the surgery, and we see him later reading from a manuscript. There are two stories related, that give the impression that something supernatural is occurring. Mr. Clarke finds out about a man frightened to death. A friend visits the place of death and has his own experience. He shows Mr. Clarke the picture of a woman who looks like Mary, the young lady from the experiment years earlier.

A series of suicides follow in which the connection is made to the woman in the photograph and the experiment. The woman is known to have many different names and in the end turns out to be the daughter of Mary. She is deduced to be the offspring of Mary and Pan.

This story is full of suspense and terror. The way he builds up a scene and leaves you to your own imagination is masterful. The visual elements in the book are also successful in leading you from the wondrous meadows that Helen traverses to the seedy, dirty back streets of London. The fear can be felt through the words and reactions of the different characters.

A classic tale and one that has withstood the test of time, "The Great God Pan" has claimed a special place on my bookshelf and will no doubt be a source of many nights spent wondering about Pan himself. A muse, maybe. Horror at its best - definitely.

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