The Great God Pan

The Great God Pan


(7 Reviews)
The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen







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The Great God Pan


(7 Reviews)

Book Excerpt

d. You may look in Browne Faber's book, if you like, and you will find that to the present day men of science are unable to account for the presence, or to specify the functions of a certain group of nerve-cells in the brain. That group is, as it were, land to let, a mere waste place for fanciful theories. I am not in the position of Browne Faber and the specialists, I am perfectly instructed as to the possible functions of those nerve-centers in the scheme of things. With a touch I can bring them into play, with a touch, I say, I can set free the current, with a touch I can complete the communication between this world of sense and--we shall be able to finish the sentence later on. Yes, the knife is necessary; but think what that knife will effect. It will level utterly the solid wall of sense, and probably, for the first time since man was made, a spirit will gaze on a spirit-world. Clarke, Mary will see the god Pan!"

"But you remember what you wrote to me? I thought it would be requisite that she--"


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Underlying the day to day reality which we perceive is a hidden deeper reality that is horrible and evil. A doctor performs an experiment on a volunteer subject that permits some of this evil to penetrate normal day to day existence.

Not bad, but hints and suggestions about the nature of this hidden evil only go so far. Some details - not too many, just a few - might have worked better. If you like the works of H.P. Lovecraft, you'll probably enjoy this.
I've read it several times over many years, and each time I find it to be simply a confusing mystery with very little horror. I can't believe that King heaped such high praise upon this story, with one of the lamest endings I've ever encountered.
Excellent horror story! Perfect example of how NOT revealing most of the information can make a story all the more terrifying. Short enough to read in one sitting. I will be reading all of his other work now.
An enjoyable horror story!!! The mystery is well kept and the gaps that are left to the imagination only make it more interesting... a must read for horror fans!
A pleasant read which may be too subtle for many of our desensitised generation, but is very spooky nonetheless. Reminds me very much of Dion Fortune's style of writing and themes, I wonder if anyone knows whether they came into contact, given that they moved in similar circles.
The greatest horror ever written in the English language. Those who like their literature flowery and baroque; this is not for them. It is straightforward prose and for this reason, many simply cannot bear it out. The reader will find a knowledge of history and true-crime nearly indispensable for a full grasp of the themes and suggestions. To pull-off this monstrosity, Machen had to leave the seams visible, and detractors are all too quick to point out the faults of the story. Lovecraft's favourite horror, King's favourite horror; does any more need to be said? The astute reader is left wondering how much of the tale is actually true, with Machen making vague reference to some of the 19th Century's more horrific crimes.
H. P. Lovecraft praised this novella of gothic cosmic horror and Machen's story lives up to the praise of the Gentleman of Providence. Anybody who is a fan of Lovecraft's literary body of alienation and horror will enjjoy this tale of an experiment gone wrong and its aftermath.

The Great God Pan met sharp criticism in its day for its sexual overtones and was condemned for its perceived misygonism, but by today's standards with its violence and sexuality taking place well off-stage, the horror is actually increased because of its sublety and because it leaves so much to the imagination.

My only criticism is that Machen leaves so much unsaid, the story can be rather confusing on its first reading, but if read as a sequel to The White People (even though the latter was written a decade later), the aborted horror that overtook the woman-child in that tale comes to full fruition in The Great God Pan.