It seems like "Inmost" or "Pyramid" could have been culled and "The White People" put in its place to make a definitive Machen weird tale single volume with a second volume aimed at more completist ventures. Still, the bookends--"Pan" and Impostors--are very worthy tales and I'm sad it took me this long to read them.
Although I finished the book just minutes ago, my mind is still reeling with what must be one of the most subtle and insidiously terrifying works of the genre I have ever read. Picture to yourself a mysterious prologue, in which we are introduced to two men and a woman who are leaving a mysterious house in the suburbs of London.
They discuss some act which was performed and move on. From another direction come the two main protagonists, Dyson and Phillipps, who take over from this point. What follows are a number of chapters titled as if they were independent short stories; yet they are all interlinked. Two of the chapters contain substories, which Machen for some reason calls "novels," which have been frequently anthologized, namely, "The Novel of the Black Seal" and "The Novel of the White Powder.
Lovecraft, it is no accident. In his essay "Supernatural Horror in Literature," Lovecraft comments that they represent "perhaps the highwater mark of Machen's skill as a terror-weaver. Rarely have I encountered such a short novel with so many interwoven skeins. I have remarked in other reviews about the moral landscape of G. Chesterton's tales, in which the sinister qualities of the landscape reflect in some way the moral flaws in the characters usually of the villains. In Machen's work, on the other hand, the scenes where the action takes place vary widely and sometimes strangely inappropriately, considering what takes place.
Machen's point seems to be that great mysteries underlie our lives: I stand in a world that seems as strange and awful to me as the endless waves of ocean seen for the first time, shining, from a peak in Darien. Now I know that the walls of sense that seem so impenetrable, that seem to loom up above the heavens and to be founded below the depths, and to shut us in for evermore, are no such everlasting impassable barriers as we fancied, but thinnest and most airy veils that melt away before the seeker, and dissolve as the early mist of the morning about the brooks.
At one moment, the sun may be shining; at another, one is lost in evil, with the faerie folk and witches and ogres bending our idea of what is real and proper into a cocked hat.
Dec 04, Charles Dee Mitchell rated it really liked it Shelves: Machen reportedly changed one word. The book was published without incident. Reading it today it is hard to imagine what the fuss would have been about. But Machen was known as a decadent writer. I have unread on my kindle a appreciation of the author titled, Arthur Machen: Author of Ecstasy and Sin. And the three imposters in this series of linked short stories are, once you can untangle the convoluted narratives, involved in some pretty horrible stuff.
But it is the sort of horrible stuff that now dominates horror programming on cable TV. And there is some genuine comedy in his choice of characters, diletantish young men of sufficient if limited means who remain clueless of the world they have stumbled into until the final gory revelation. He has got to do simply this — to invent a wonderful story, and to tell it in a wonderful manner. Dyson is speaking for the author at this moment, but he is also setting himself up for some terrible shocks. I read a Dover edition that contained no other stories than the linked narratives of the title.
Apr 06, Simon rated it really liked it Shelves: I have long eagerly awaited reading something by Arthur Machen. Supposedly one of the grandfather's of Weird fiction, an important influence on H. Lovecraft , I was hoping for another author of the same caliber and perhaps somewhat similar to Algernon Blackwood. He turned out not to be quite quite as good and somewhat different in approach. Edited and introduced by S.
Common themes include the corruption of innocence, scientific endeavour in areas of the supernatural and the mysteries and beauty of late 19th century London. Apparently deeply shocking and contraversial in it's time, there were angry reviews and morally outraged critics in the media, today it feels overly restrained and coy. In other words it hasn't dated too well, lacking the effectiveness they might once of had. The other two short stories are in the same vein; good but haven't dated too well.
I don't know if I have ever read a story with such a complex narrative structure.
Divided up into a series of episodes, it contains many complete stories within stories that are related by one of the three antagonists to either of the two protagonists in as part of their elaborate and convoluted attempts to try to track down another character who is on the run. The narrative reached, at times, four levels deep. The two protagonists are wealthy individuals who were born into money and who have nothing more to do with their time than wandering the streets of London, reflecting upon and discussing esoteric matters, furiously smoking their pipes as they keep running into the three antagonists, in various guises, who proceed to relate dubious stories of the supernatural.
The prose is quite purple, noticibly more so than Blackwood altough these tales were written at least ten years earlier and as I said feel more dated. I do intend to go on and read the other two volumes in this series to see what else this author has to offer.
It is a tale of coincidence, perhaps supernaturally arranged, that embroils itself around two young friends Dyson, the cynical writer, and Phillips, the fanciful scientist, after they find a coin of legendary value. For fans of the Victorian Gothic, Machen is essential and The Three Impostors is a great example - decadent, heathen and genuinely creepy.
Jun 09, Jim Smith rated it it was amazing. If this book were expanded to include 'The White People' it would feature all of Machen's truly essential short horror fiction from his somewhat frustrating, but thoroughly fascinating career. I had previously read The often anthologized 'The novel of the white powder' and 'The novel of the black seal' and was looking forward to experiencing this collection of short stories in its entirety.
The book consist of several short horror stories woven into a frame story told to Phillips and Byron, the one a determined rationalist and the other somewhat a dreamer.
Thematically the stories revolve around the decay of moral and the arts, somehow connected to a secret society possibly worshipp I had previously read The often anthologized 'The novel of the white powder' and 'The novel of the black seal' and was looking forward to experiencing this collection of short stories in its entirety. Thematically the stories revolve around the decay of moral and the arts, somehow connected to a secret society possibly worshipping sloth roman emperor Tiberius and the decadent creature of mythology, Pan My own point would be that the real devil behind the flattening of culture, moral decay etc.
The frame story seems too constructed at times, strained even; a good example is the build up to 'The novel of the black seal': But when all that is said, 'The three impostors' is still a strong work of fiction. The two aforementioned short stories are classics within the genre and the lesser known 'The novel of the dark valley' also deserves mention. Jun 27, Jennifer rated it liked it Shelves: I read selected bits of this collection - "The Great God Pan" and "The Novel of the White Powder" - last year as support material for a Lovecraft Book Club, but I didn't really settle down to get to know Machen until recently, when the imminence of the NecronomiCon reminded me that I'd promised not to show up to the convention again without having done all the reading.
And yes, I'm aware of how much geek was crammed into that sentence. Due to their influence on Lovecraft, Arthur Machen, A I read selected bits of this collection - "The Great God Pan" and "The Novel of the White Powder" - last year as support material for a Lovecraft Book Club, but I didn't really settle down to get to know Machen until recently, when the imminence of the NecronomiCon reminded me that I'd promised not to show up to the convention again without having done all the reading.
Due to their influence on Lovecraft, Arthur Machen, Algernon Blackwood, Clark Ashton Smith, and Lord Dunsany all made my homework list, and reading them in close conjunction has actually added something to my weird fiction experience, as it facilitates a comparison of just what each man oh, so many men considered "horror. It's an interesting take, though perhaps not a surprising one for a Victorian.
Most of this volume is taken up by the tripartite "The Three Imposters," which reads a good deal differently as a whole than it does if you pick out individual pieces as I'd done previously. I'm not entirely certain the framing structure really works - other than to bring Machen's recurring characters Dyson and Phillips in for cameos - but the tales themselves are creepily enjoyable, though the unreliability of the narrators will leave you wondering how much of what you've just read you can really trust. So far I've read two volumes of this three volume series from Chaosium, and I'm fairly comfortable advising all but the completists to just stick to the first one and then move on to something else.
Machen's fun in small doses and definitely worth reading for his influence on later writers like Lovecraft and King, but I'm not sure you need to follow him through all his iterations Nov 22, David Davis rated it it was amazing Shelves: It was short stories but they all fit together. Mar 23, Mark R. The novel holds the same structure as the short stories, more or less, with one character a man named Dyson in all but one of the stories contained in this book investigating and being told a strange story by another character.
The novel has Dyson and an associate of his being told stories by various characters, and the episodic nature of the novel even allowed for some of these stories to be published on their own in the late 's. I was not familiar with Arthur Machen before reading this book, and only knew that his early work represented here was an influence on Lovecraft.
That's certainly obvious after reading the first story, "The Great God Pan," with its themes of gods and monsters just beyond our world, able to be seen by those who can manage to get through to the "other side. I like the style of Machen's writing and will probably pick up anther collection of his in the near future. The episodic and sometimes confusing nature of the novel made it a little less enjoyable to read than the short stories, but overall, this is definitely a good collection.
These fantastic tales are firmly placed in the urbane and modern life of Victorian London, in particular the regularity of the new suburbia, and the scepticism of the scientific man, which sharpens the contrast to the tales of the uncanny, providing a troubling hint of darker currents beneath daily life and a darker nature constrained within each of us. There is a strand of humour that runs through the book, acknowledge the relish we take in the tall tale, the gruesome and repulsive.
And this unexpected lightness means the denouement of the stories — that blank moment of revulsion, when the horror is finally revealed — became, for me, even more effective for being somewhat unexpected. My edition includes a selection of contemporaneous reviews that absolutely made my day: I should like to know how the imagination of the author would work upon clean and wholesome lines.
I did enjoy this story, the way that it was told, and the way that all of the threads were brought together in an horrific climax. The style of writing reminded me of that of Arthur Conan Doyle , which should not surprise me, as he and Arthur Machen were contemporaries.
The language is very descriptive and somewhat flowery. Occasionally, that gets a bit boring, but mostly it is, for me, beautiful prose. There appear to be three main characters, but they converge on a fourth. There is much mystery a I did enjoy this story, the way that it was told, and the way that all of the threads were brought together in an horrific climax.
There is much mystery and supernatural overtone. Machen's anti-materialism shines through his characterizations. This provokes deep thought in the reader.
At least, it did with me. There are some quite scary parts to this book. A good producer could make a very good film of it. Perhaps they already have. I haven't looked into it. All in all, I enjoyed the book, and swayed between three and four stars for it, but eventually settled on three because I found part of it to be a bit of a trudge through treacle. Three strange people are introduced an artist, a slob, and a woman.
Each is haunted by a dark past and desperately searching for a deceptively harmless young man in spectacles. This is the common thread in a series of short stories told to two scholars by strangers in turn-of-the-century London. The two pretentious scholars are ensnared in what at first seems to be a series of unlikely coincidences that turns out to be an intricate conspiracy of deception where lies are traded like currency and Three strange people are introduced an artist, a slob, and a woman.
The two pretentious scholars are ensnared in what at first seems to be a series of unlikely coincidences that turns out to be an intricate conspiracy of deception where lies are traded like currency and where secrets hide in plain sight. Although this premise is intriguing the mythos Machen has created is only a starting point for Lovecraft to perfect.
The writing is dull and over-ornamented, but Machen's inventive concept nearly hits its target. A must for Lovecraft fans. Jan 31, Martin rated it really liked it. Machen is, as should be, a little strange. Cerebral horror sure, but not particularly horrific. Suspenseful build up to a reveal you probably see coming because you've been exposed to so much horror since this was written. So not scary, and nothing really is unless you believe it's possible.
A little creepy perhaps. I like this sort of thing though, popularized now, or rather, exemplified in Lovecraft: Ce Machen is, as should be, a little strange. Certainly a deranged lunatic with a knife is scarier, but a strange cult and an old book of unspeakable knowledge is so much more satisfying.
Apr 06, Melinda rated it really liked it Shelves: This was my first experience with Machen, and I find that I really like him. The book comes off in an intelligent fashion and you can tell how Machen was an influence to Lovecraft as they share that same creepy feeling and penchant for things that slither. The three imposters relate fantastic stories while searching for a single man that their master wants.
The other name for this book is the Transmutations, which will make sense after hearing the stories. I really enjoyed the language and plott This was my first experience with Machen, and I find that I really like him. I really enjoyed the language and plotting. The imposters are diverse and imaginative.
Even though the ending is rather abrupt, I would recommend. Mar 20, Ian Casey rated it really liked it. The Three Impostors and Other Stories is the first of three volumes from Chaosium, collectively comprising most of Arthur Machen's short stories and novellas in roughly chronological order. The first and last being two of his most famed works, one could scarcely go wrong here as a starting point.
Joshi's introduction gives a handful of interesting tidbits but no dramatic insights, and The Three Impostors and Other Stories is the first of three volumes from Chaosium, collectively comprising most of Arthur Machen's short stories and novellas in roughly chronological order. Joshi's introduction gives a handful of interesting tidbits but no dramatic insights, and there are no footnotes in the text as with say his Penguin Classics edition of The White People.
The typesetting is unfortunately densely packed and with little regard to aesthetics, as though they were a little too keen to be economical with pagecount. It would have been nice to give it a little more space for ease of readability, though there are other options such as Delphi Classics' ebook of Machen's complete works for that purpose. Both Chaosium and Joshi approach Machen from the Lovecraft direction of course, though I don't think it particularly helpful to retrospectively view him through that lens.
Philosophically he was a world apart as something of mystic, deeply suspicious of science and its ability to ever reveal or to unravel the world's innermost truths. More to the point though, these works hail from the literary tumult of s London which was to produce the earliest rumblings of what we now identify as genre fiction, from the likes of Stevenson, Wilde, Stoker and Wells.
What is perhaps less appreciated by some of a strict horror bent is the humour of The Three Impostors, which is at times an affectionate parody and occasionally self-parody of aspiring writers in London in that era, of which Machen came to be associated with the 'decadent' movement.
Soldiers Three is a collection of short stories by Rudyard Kipling. The three soldiers of the title are Learoyd, Mulvaney and Ortheris , who had also appeared previously in the collection Plain Tales from the Hills. The current version, dating from and more fully titled Soldiers Three and other stories , consists of three sections which each had previously received separate publication in ; Learoyd, Mulvaney and Ortheris appear only in the first section, which is also titled Soldiers Three.
The soldiers comment on their betters, act the fool, but cut straight to the rawness of war in the mid-east as the British began to loosen their Imperial hold. The first publication of a collection of seven stories called Soldiers Three was as No 1 of A. In , it became part of the book Soldiers Three and Other Stories , known to most people by the simpler title Soldiers Three.
It is this collection whose contents are listed here.
Lists with This Book. The real monsters, whether Machen intended it or not, are the so-called civilised men. A me personalmente ogni racconto ha lasciato l'amaro in bocca, come se mancasse sempre qualcosa. Based on this collection, a decent shorthand for Machen's work would be to describe it as a mix between H. In Machen's work, on the other hand, the scenes where the action takes place vary widely and sometimes strangely inappropriately, considering what takes place. The three soldiers of the title are Learoyd, Mulvaney and Ortheris , who had also appeared previously in the collection Plain Tales from the Hills.
Both of these were also published in The phrase 'Soldiers Three' may be used in writings about Kipling to group the three heroes of this collection: Soldiers Three in the Indian Railway Library edition became the second collection of short stories by Rudyard Kipling to be published, after Plain Tales from the Hills in which the 'Three Soldiers' also appear. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.