View Full Version : Arthur Machen’s Victorian vision of psycho-surgery

Paul Rigby
10-11-2009, 09:09 PM
“His first novel, The Great God Pan, appeared in 1894…Machen’s debut concerns a working-class waif named Mary and her wealthy benefactor, who grooms her to become a guinea pig in a grotesque early experiment in brain surgery. Under the scalpel, she experiences a vision of the vast and formless deity of nature, only to awaken as a drooling idiot. She is found to be pregnant and, before dying, gives birth to a daughter who matures into a beautiful, voraciously seductive avatar of chaos, a pagan antichrist who proceeds to cut a vengeful swathe through stuffy fin-de-siecle London…Turning to the occult for solace, he was initiated into the Order of the Golden Dawn on November 21, 1899, taking the name Frater Avallanius…”

Richard Stanley, “Pan’s people,” The Guardian, Saturday Review, 30 October 2004, p.28.