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The Great God Pan

3.81  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,138 Ratings  ·  421 Reviews
"Of Mr. Machen's horror-tales the most famous is perhaps The Great God Pan (1894), which tells of a singular and terrible experiment and its consequences." -H. P. Lovecraft

Scientists destroy a woman's mind when they attempt to help her see the god of nature, Pan. Years later, a young woman named Helen arrives in London's social scene. Her presence disturbs many young men w
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Paperback, 84 pages
Published April 12th 2005 by WLC (first published 1894)
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Petra X
Reading this book was a bit like eating a salad made with bottled dressing instead of one made with virgin olive oil (view spoiler) and a spike of balsamic or wine vinegar for piquancy. It was almost there, you could see that there was definitely flavour in there somewhere, bu ...more
J.G. Keely
My favored definition of wisdom has always been 'a recognition of one's limits', and as such, wisdom is vital for writers. When an author knows their capabilities and their flaws, they are in prime position to write a story which takes advantage of their strengths and mitigates their weaknesses.

Yet what is preferable for an artist: to stay within the bounds of their skill, or to work to always to exceed them? The first sort will be able to create precise and deliberate works of mastery, while th
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Eddie Watkins
Oct 16, 2014 Eddie Watkins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Great God Pan is a succinct gem of horror and mystery; a kind of spiritual variation on classic tales of lycanthropy; though its effectiveness depends on one’s sensitivity to, and belief in, the potential horrors of the very real though unseen forces beneath material manifestation.

A scientist, a self-proclaimed practitioner of transcendental medicine, cuts into a young woman's brain to heighten her spiritual awareness; but instead Pan, the wild nature spirit, or rather the tremendous invisib
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Algernon
Jun 28, 2015 Algernon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015

Look about you! You see the mountain, and hill following after hill, as wave on wave, you see the woods and orchard, the fields of ripe corn, and the meadows reaching to the reed-beds by the river. You see me standing here beside you, and hear my voice; but I tell you that all these things – yes, from that star that has just shone out in the sky to the solid ground beneath our feet – I say that all these are but dreams and shadows; the shadows that hide the real world from our eyes. There is a
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Kat  Hooper
Apr 05, 2011 Kat Hooper rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

Written in 1894, Arthur Machen’s The Great God Pan is a short novel which was highly influential to H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King. King, in fact, said The Great God Pan is “…one of the best horror stories ever written. Maybe the best in the English language. Mine isn’t anywhere near that good…” The Great God Pan used to be hard to find, but is now available free on the Kindle (and at other public domain e-book outlets) and is easily read in one dark and
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Paul
I was in a minor car accident this morning (nothing serious, just a bad case of whiplash) and I'm on diazepam, so apologies in advance if this makes even less sense than my normal 'reviews'...

The Great God Pan is, apparently, a seminal work of horror fiction. I've been reading horror fiction all my life, though, and I'd never even heard of it until Stephen King mentioned it (I forget where; did I mention I'm on diazepam?)

It's actually not bad at all. While I was reading it, I was thinking 'this
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Lyn
Oct 13, 2015 Lyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As good as advertised, called by Stephen King to be perhaps the greatest horror story in English. Not sure about that, but I can see how influential this may have been. Really weird and has allusions to myth. First published in 1890, this is after Poe but before Lovecraft, creating something of a bridge between masters of the horror genre.

This has all the elements of a great story and created a benchmark for what makes a horror story.

description
Marvin
Dec 25, 2010 Marvin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, short-fiction
The reason Machen remains influential among modern horror writers is quite evident in his most famous tale, The Great God Pan. While not the as shocking and decadent as his contemporary critics said it was, it is still quite disturbing as Machen tells this story about evil seductions and hidden deities. Machen seems to have a strong interest in the mystical (he hung around with Alister Crowley) and strong pantheistic leanings. Yet while contemporary Algernon Blackwood wrote about the same areas ...more
Maciek
The Great God Pan is one of Arthur Machen's earliest works, and also his most popular. Upon release it was widely denounced as decadent and depraved, although it has since influenced countless writers of horror and weird fiction, from H.P. Lovecraft to Stephen King.

Machen was a bohemian fellow, deeply opposed to science and modernity; he held a belief that the real world is just a veil behind which another world is hidden, infinitely more strange, mysterious and magical. The Great God Pan is set
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Nate D
19th century neurobiology as means of "lifting the veil" of consensus reality as mediated by flawed senses, and terrible repercussions of both this hidden knowledge and what may cross back through such lifted veils. An influence on Lovecraft, apparently (obviously), and as such it could be improved somewhat by, rather than just telling us that things are cripplingly horrifying, actually giving us some more of the specifics. Of course, the merits of the unknown, suggestion, etc -- so it still rat ...more
Jason
I've been hearing of Machen's work for years now, but never got around to reading him. I live in a small, Canadian town, and finding his work around here is near impossible. When I got my Kindle, all that changed. Suddenly, I had all the classic books I yearned for, including Machen.

I hesitated, though. What if my expectations were raised too high? What if I were let down? I have, after all, heard a lot of great things about Machen from authors of whom I admire. Great writers like Caitlin R. Kie
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Quentin Wallace
Sep 03, 2015 Quentin Wallace rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I suppose this story was just a little over my head. This has been called "possibly the greatest horror story ever written" by Stephen King himself, and while I did enjoy it, I surely didn't see it as the greatest ever.

This was written in the 19th century, and Lovecraft always cited this story as one of his inspirations. I could definitely see elements of Lovecraft's style here. I don't really know how to go into detail about the story without spoilers, so let's just say it deals with Pan and is
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Brian
“In every grain of wheat there lies hidden the soul of a star.”

Dr. Raymond believes in a reality beneath the frail flesh of this world from which you draw breath. Beneath the beauty, the fluttering creatures of passing color, under the trickling waters refracting rays of sunlight, a deeper essence lies. He calls it “The Great God Pan.” He wants to find an entrance to this deeper place, so he performs an experiment on Mary. When he drills a hole in her head, she sees. The terror cripples her mind
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Brad
Oct 13, 2015 Brad rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
Picking up the old horror classics and working my way through them, I hope to find some real gems that do better than contemporaries. Of course, fiction is fiction and it always changes with time; all styles die. It had the feel of all good ghost stories, without actually being a ghost story. I had to compare it with similar titles, like Prometheus Unbound, or Dracula, and it just felt tired.

Not bad, just not very revealing or deep. It's a good book for a day you want to relax and flow into a s
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 Danielle The Book Huntress (Self-Proclaimed Book Ninja)
I quite liked this story by Arthur Machen. I liked the air of mystery, but harrowing menace he created. Apparently the doctor's experiments in piercing the veil had some very bad effects. There was a subtle element of dark sexuality in this story, handled very elegantly. I like that much is left for the reader to discern in this story. Many of those people who see what should have been left hidden don't live long afterward, and I was encouraged to draw my own conclusions about that horror they w ...more
Dfordoom
Apr 18, 2008 Dfordoom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror-gothic
Arthur Machen’s 1894 novella The Great God Pan is probably his best-known work. Machen himself was an interesting character, a devout Anglo-Catholic with an intense dislike for just about everything modern, as well as a fascination with paganism. His books embody a kind of personal mythology, dealing with the continued existence of a mysterious ancient race, a race that has supposedly given rise to various legends about fairies and so forth.
The theme of The Great God Pan is typical of Machen’s
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Noran Miss Pumkin
This vintage story, is like a bad 50's B/W Monster movie-where you never get s good look at the beastie. Never could figure out what evil vileness the women did to drive men to their deaths. It had great potential, but just did not deliver, then nor now.
Scott
Nov 11, 2009 Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: victorian, 1890s, horror
Who is the dark and lovely young woman living in Ashley Street, in the cheery house with red geraniums in the windows and flowers on the curtains? Why do so many gentlemen call upon her? What do they see there? What do they do in the house in Ashley Street? And why do they all kill themselves so hideously afterwards?

Arthur Machen's The Great God Pan (1894) is a paranormal mystery that twists together the lives of mad scientists, occultists, and men about town, all attracted, some destroyed, by t
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Kimberly
Aug 07, 2013 Kimberly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story starts out with a chilling account of a sort of "brain operation" in order to transcend barriers and enable the recipient to be able to view the great god Pan. After this, the narration jumps about--introducing us to other key characters within different scenes and times. The common thread, of course, ties back to Pan and the profound effect he has on the sensibilities of ordinary humans.

This classic was considered a bit scandalous in it's time, but very tame by today's comparisons. Pe
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Jon
Nov 23, 2014 Jon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First, I’d better come clean: I read The Great God Pan because Stephen King told me to. King has never been shy about name-dropping his influences, and this particular story is one of his biggest, apparently. If I ever find and decide to re-read my copy of Danse Macabre, I’ll probably need to get “I’m reading this because Stephen King told me to” printed on a tee-shirt for all the books I read there-after.

Right then; The Great God Pan.

I read this last week and gave it 3 stars, and was somewhat d
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Palmyrah
Oct 08, 2012 Palmyrah rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Maybe it's my fault. Tales of the supernatural had a tremendous effect on me as a child, but the magic no longer works as it did. That said, in a competent writer's hands I'm as susceptible to atmosphere and suspense as anybody else.

And here is a book that is all about atmosphere and suspense. It has little enough of anything else – hardly any action, not much of a plot, no characters worthy of the name, no interesting new ideas to set you thinking. It is a play of hints and shadows – of unspeak
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Antonomasia
May 04, 2013 Antonomasia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Antonomasia by: Alex Sarll
[My 100th Goodreads review, and more of an actual review than many of them.]

What a curious beast. As it was a free Kindle book, I hadn't read up on this specific story and expected numinous pagan ramblings in the English landscape, a sort of Rewards and Fairies for grown-ups. Certainly there are some beautiful descriptions, but opening as it does with dastardly experimental brain-surgery on a nubile 17-year-old ward (backed by a curiously modern theory echoing the idea of the "god module") - and
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Olga Kowalska (WielkiBuk)
Wow. Simple, honestly: WOW! What is hidden beyond the veil of our reality is one of the greatest mysteries of the universe - terrifying, breathtaking, full of darkness and sheer terror. Machen as the predecessor of Lovecraft, King, Straub and so many others. Unique literary experience.
Terence
Jul 24, 2009 Terence rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Lovecraft, early pulp horror
Shelves: horror-gothic
Reading articles and other stuff about the horror genre and its authors, I had come across Arthur Machen’s name many times and had always meant to sample his work when time or opportunity permitted.

Well, it happened – a reference to a totally unrelated author and a Wikipedia search took me to “The Great God Pan” and, hence, to the Gutenberg Project, where I downloaded a copy.

The plot is similar to H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Dunwich Horror” (a debt HPL openly acknowledged) – A scientist performs an op
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Chris
Jul 25, 2013 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Widely considered to be one of the finest works of classic horror, The Great God Pan deals with the idea of scientific experimentation bringing one closer to the great nature deity, Pan, only in this short novel it has disastrous circumstances. Akin to rogue science gone mad ala Frankenstein, we're introduced in the beginning to the somewhat sinister Dr. Raymond and his friend, Clarke. Raymond proceeds to operate on a young girl's brain in order for her to commune with Pan, but the end result le ...more
Nikki
Nov 26, 2011 Nikki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, welsh-writing
I didn't find The Great God Pan (or the other stories in this volume) as scary as I expected to, given the introduction, but there's definitely a sense of chill, a sense of the uncanny. I think they're just so very restrained compared to the guts and gore you come across now -- I don't find these tales as horrifying as Val McDermid's The Mermaids Singing, for example, and I don't think that's intended to be horror. There's something very sedate about Machen's writing, and something picturesque, ...more
Anna
Jul 29, 2015 Anna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Anna by: project gutenburg, npl
“There is a real world, but it is beyond this glamour and this vision, beyond these 'chases in Arras, dreams in a career,' beyond them all as beyond a veil. I do not know whether any human being has ever lifted that veil; but I do know, Clarke, that you and I shall see it lifted this very night from before another's eyes. You may think this all strange nonsense; it may be strange, but it is true, and the ancients knew what lifting the veil means. They called it seeing the god Pan.”
― Arthur Mache
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Oscar
Confieso que siento debilidad por los relatos fantásticos clásicos, ya sean de terror, góticos o de suspense y misterio. Los autores decimonónicos y de principios del siglo XX, tienen una magia especial, una manera de narrar que no se encuentra en otros géneros. Es muy satisfactorio sumergirse en esas tramas en las que prima mucho más el modo en que se va desplegando la historia y su contenido que los propios personajes, que, sin dejarlos a un lado, son meros comparsas de lo que está sucediendo. ...more
Emy
Feb 24, 2015 Emy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Emy by: Frozenwaffle
I read this book as part of the EEVILLE book challenge, the idea being we were challenged to read something that we would never normally pick up. I was partnered with the lovely Frozenwaffle, who challenged me to read this strange, rough little gem of a book.

In essence, The Great God Pan is a tale of the unintended consequences of an experiment that delved into the hidden mysteries of the human brain. At least, that's what I took out of it. You could also desribe it as a series of linked mysteri
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Ricardo Lourenço
Marco importante na literatura fantástica, inspirando e influenciando muitos autores que se inserem nesse género, não se justifica a imerecida falta de atenção dada à obra de Machen por parte das editoras portuguesas. Felizmente a Saída de Emergência, à semelhança do que tem vindo a fazer em relação a diversos escritores, acaba por preencher o relativo vazio no que a traduções em português diz respeito.
No entanto, é preciso ter em conta que, naturalmente, não podemos ler os seus contos da mesma
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The Bookhouse Boys: The Great God Pan discussion 42 36 Nov 06, 2013 06:28PM  
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Arthur Machen was a leading Welsh author of the 1890s. He is best known for his influential supernatural, fantasy, and horror fiction. His long story "The Great God Pan" made him famous and controversial in his lifetime, but The Hill of Dreams is generally considered his masterpiece. He also is well known for his leading role in creating the legend of the Angels of Mons.

At the age of eleven, Mache
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“I had to cast out a good many lines, though, before I got what I wanted, and when I landed the fish I did not for a moment suppose it was my fish. But I listened to what I was told out of a constitutional liking for useless information, and I found myself in possession of a very curious story, though, as I imagined, not the story I was looking for.” 7 likes
“I knew I had looked into the eyes of a lost soul, Austin, the man's outward form remained, but all hell was within it.” 6 likes
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