The Hill Of Dreams by Arthur Machen
Arthur Machen (3 March 1863 - 15 December 1947) was a Welsh author and mystic of the 1890s and early 20th century. He is best known for his influential supernatural, fantasy, and horror fiction. His novella The Great God Pan (1890; 1894) has garnered a reputation as a classic of horror, with Stephen King describing it as "Maybe the best [horror story] in the English language." He is also well known for his leading role in creating the legend of the Angels of Mons.
The novel recounts the life of a young man, Lucian Taylor, focusing on his dreamy childhood in rural Wales, in a town based on Caerleon. The Hill of Dreams of the title is an old Roman fort where Lucian has strange sensual visions, including ones of the town in the time of Roman Britain. Later, the novel describes Lucian's attempts to make a living as an author in London, enduring poverty and suffering in the pursuit of art and history............
From the The Friends of Arthur Machen website:
For many readers today this is Machen’s most important and moving work … Machen drew copiously on his own early years in Wales and London, and the book as a whole is an exploration through imagination of a potential fate which he personally avoided. One of the first explorations in fiction of the figure of the doomed artist, who is biographically so much a part of the decadent 1890s.
The Hill of Dreams was little noticed on its publication in 1907 save in a glowing review by Alfred Douglas. It was actually written between 1895 and 1897 and has elements of the style of the decadent and aesthetic movement of the period, seen through Machen's own mystical preoccupations. In his review of the book, Alfred Douglas argued that: "Machen's prose has the rhythmic beat of some dreadful Oriental instrument, insistent, monotonous, haunting; and still the soft tone of one careful flute sounds on, and keeps the nerves alive to the slow and growing pain of the rhythmic beat... It is like some dreadful liturgy of self-inflicted pain, set to measured music: and the cadence of that music becomes intolerable by the suave phrasing and perfect modulation. The last long chapter with its recurring themes is a masterpiece of prose, and in its way unique."
Machen was a member of the New Bohemians drinking society that used to meet at the Prince's Head in Buckinghamshire Street, London. Members included Alfred Douglas, Arthur Ransome, Hilaire Belloc, Richard Barham Middleton, Edgar Jepson, Edwin Pugh and Cecil Chesterton.
Lord Dunsany admired The Hill of Dreams and wrote an introduction to a 1954 reprint of the novel. In Henry and June, Henry Miller tells Anaïs Nin about The Hill of Dreams.
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