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.What you say the doctor whom you sent for saw and shuddered at I noticed long ago; I knew what I had done the moment the child was born, and when it was scarcely five years old I surprised it, not once or twice but several times with a playmate, you may guess of what kind.It was for me a constant, an incarnate horror, and after a few years I felt I could bear it no longer, and I sent Helen Vaughan away.You know now what frightened the boy in the wood.The rest of the strange story, and all else that you tell me, as discovered by your friend, I have contrived to learn from time to time, almost to the last chapter.And now Helen is with her companions…* Dr Phillips tells me that he has seen the head in question, and assures me that he has never received such a vivid presentment of intense evil.Notes on the text1 a faint mist, pure white, began to rise from the banksThe description of an atmospheric rural vista such as this recurs frequently in Machen’s work.In his introduction to the 1916 edition of The Great God Pan (p169), Machen recalls how ‘Llanddewi Rectory where I was bred looks out over a wonderful and enchanting country’, before proceeding to relate a similar description of the scenery to that found in this opening passage of the novel.Such a description is also to be found in Machen’s autobiographical writings: in Far off Things (1922) Machen claims that ‘anything which I may have accomplished in literature is due to the fact that when my eyes were first opened in earliest childhood they had before them the vision of an enchanted land.’ The image of the house overlooking such a landscape is also a prominent feature of the vista.The 1916 introduction recalls again how Machen’s eye was caught by the ‘white house… called Bertholly […which] became an object of mysterious attraction to me.’ The house (or castle) is a familiar trope in gothic literature.At once ‘mysterious’ yet attractive, forbidding yet somehow enchanted, looming from a sublime surrounding landscape and also connected with the incarceration of an often sexualised woman, Dr Raymond’s house in the Welsh border country can be read in the lineage of Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto (1764) and Bram Stoker’s Castle Dracula (Dracula, 1897).2 ‘chases in Arras, dreams in a career’See George Herbert, ‘Dotage’, from The Temple (1633), lines 1-6.False glozing pleasures, casks of happinesse,Foolish night-fires, womens and childrens wishes,Chases in Arras, guilded emptinesse,Shadows well mounted, dreams in a career,Embroider’d lyes, nothing between two dishes;These are the pleasures here.3 the ancients knew what lifting the veil means.They called it seeing the god PanIn Greek mythology Pan is the god of flocks and herds.He is usually depicted as having the hindquarters and horns of a goat, like a faun (the equivalent figure in Roman mythology is Faunus), and is frequently portrayed as a companion of nymphs and fairies.4 this world of ours is pretty well girded nowSee William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, II.2.350-1.PUCK: I’ll put a girdle round about the earth In forty minutes.Puck is a mythological fairy character, and Shakespeare’s play itself is focused on the interface between the ordered state of Athens and the altogether more chaotic supernatural world of the fairies.5 You see that parchment Oswald Crollius?Oswald Crollius, or Oswald Croll (c.1560-1608), was an alchemist and professor of medicine at the University of Marburg in Germany.6 …the clumsy tricks of these gentlemen would make him altogether disgusted with occultism of every kindThe 1890s witnessed the re-emergence of interest in mysticism and the occult, and this revival forms an important context to Machen’s work and much of the literature of the decade.The Ukranian-born US writer Madame Helena Blavatsky (born Helena von Hahn; 1831-91) founded the Theosophical Society in New York in 1875; in 1888 the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was founded in London.The latter movement combined elements of Kabala, Rosicrucianism and mysticism, proving to be an influential focus for interest in the occult during the period and numbering both W.B.Yeats and, briefly, Machen himself among its members.7 Memoirs to prove the Existence of the DevilThe inclusion of Clarke’s ‘memoirs’ incorporates a further instance of the text’s negotiation of a late-century mysticism.The influence of the works of Thomas de Quincey is also detectable here.The placing of the memoirs within the main body of the narrative fragments and destabilises the narration in a similar way to several other gothic texts from the period, Stoker’s Dracula among them.8 inhabitants of a village on the borders of WalesAgain, the narrative shifts its focus from London to Wales, and a Welsh border country strongly associated with its Roman history.In the 1916 introduction to The Great God Pan Machen describes his home town of Caerleon-on-Usk as ‘a very ancient place, once the home of the legions, the centre of an exiled Roman culture in the heart of Celtdom’.As with the opening chapter of the novel, the border country is more than a geographical boundary: it is also a boundary between self and other, between the material and the spiritual.9 a condition described by the medical men as one of violent hysteriaSigmund Freud (1856-1939) and Josef Breuer (1842-1925) were to publish their Studies on Hysteria in 1895, the year following The Great God Pan.The late-century anxiety over how to articulate the problem presented by a perceived sexual excess or deviancy among women finds voice in the emergent discourse of psychoanalysis and the re-emergent genre of the gothic.10 faun or satyrSatyrs are usually depicted as a troop of companions to the Greek god Dionysus [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]