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The White People and Other Weird Stories (The Best Weird Tales of Arthur Machen #2)

4.03  ·  Rating Details ·  1,495 Ratings  ·  109 Reviews
Machen's weird tales of the creepy and fantastic finally come to Penguin Classics. With an introduction from S.T. Joshi, editor of American Supernatural Tales, The White People and Other Weird Stories is the perfect introduction to the father of weird fiction. The title story "The White People" is an exercise in the bizarre leaving the reader disoriented and on edge. From ...more
Paperback, 377 pages
Published March 29th 2011 by Penguin Classics (first published 1904)
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Matt You can definitely see how Lovecraft drew inspiration from Machen, but it's not as Lovecraftian as The King in Yellow or the horror works of Ambrose…moreYou can definitely see how Lovecraft drew inspiration from Machen, but it's not as Lovecraftian as The King in Yellow or the horror works of Ambrose Bierce. Machen's horror tends to rely on more traditional fantasy villains... a lot of fairies, demons, angels, etc. It's definitely atmospheric horror, which makes it similar to Lovecraft, but Lovecraft's underlying philosophy is pretty nihilistic, whereas Machen seems to be fundamentally spiritual, with a lot of emphasis on paganism, the occult, and Celtic mythology.

So long answer short, it's very obvious that it was an inspiration for Lovecraft, but it's not particularly Lovecraftian.(less)

Community Reviews

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Bill  Kerwin

This collection makes for both an inspiring and a melancholy reading experience, for here we see Machen first at the height of his powers and then at the beginning of his decline.

The pieces that begin this collection are worthy of high praise. “The White People”—although not as viscerally terrifying as some of Machen’s earlier tales—is superb in its subtle use of a naïve narrator to evoke, by degrees, a sense of existential menace. The prose poems in“Ornaments in Jade”—experimental attempts to f
Oct 17, 2016 Tristan rated it really liked it
“There are sacraments of evil as well as of good about us, and we live and move to my belief in an unknown world, a place where there are caves and shadows and dwellers in twilight. It is possible that man may sometimes return on the track of evolution, and it is my belief that an awful lore is not yet dead.”
― Arthur Machen

Christian mystic, member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and a master writer of the weird tale. Arthur Machen was all three, with an interesting evolution as a write
Paquita Maria Sanchez
Based on Eddie's STELLAR


( of another Machen novel, i read this short story on my break today. First of all, the introduction is one of the most amazing explorations of the notion of evil that I have yet to read, and was a perfect transition from Wise Blood, a much-later novel exploring similar issues. This story, however, examines sin from a very different angle than O'Connor the Catholic's approach.



The text concerns a young girl and her s
Como ya comentaba en 'El gran dios Pan y otros relatos de terror', el galés Arthur Machen fue una gran influencia para H.P. Lovecraft, llegando a utilizar éste algunos nombres y referencias en obras tan significativas como 'El horror de Dunwich'.

Toda la obra de Machen está rodeada de ese halo mágico y misterioso de los profundos bosques y montañas galesas, donde es posible soñar con la gente pequeña, esas malévolas criaturas pre-célticas que se mantienen ocultas a nuestra presencia. Leyendas, mi
Amy Sturgis
May 08, 2015 Amy Sturgis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I reread this work, originally written in the 1890s and published in 1904, in preparation for teaching my course on H.P. Lovecraft. In Supernatural Horror in Literature, Lovecraft writes that "Machen's narrative, a triumph of skilful selectiveness and restraint, accumulates enormous power as it flows on in a stream of innocent childish prattle."

It is a fascinating story. Two men discuss the nature of evil and then consider the diary of a (now dead by her own hand) young girl, which contains her
Apr 04, 2014 Simon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories, horror
As I read through these collections of Machen's weird tales the themes that he was pre-occuppied with become more readily apparent. Perhaps it's because, as he went on, he got increasingly frustrated by society's refusal to heed his word, and made his points in more heavy handed and explicit ways.

In this collection, increasingly under attack is the rational materialism that Machen feels too completely dominates his contemporary society. Our spiritualist side is dwindling and, as a consequence, o
Jan 02, 2014 Tony rated it liked it
THE WHITE PEOPLE and Other Weird Stories. (1904-1925; this ed. 2011). Arthur Machen. ***.
I’ve given this collection three stars not because I liked it, it was more from it’s potential value for this particular genre. Although I would have classified Machen’s (1863-1947) type of writing as fantasy or horror, the subtitle used for this collection provides a better category name: weird. Most of the stories are concerned with the presence and/or interaction of beings on the side of the spiritual wo
Mar 08, 2013 David rated it liked it
I read two thirds of this intriguing collection of stories before returning it to the book shelf. There's no doubt about it: Arthur Machen was an intriguing author, with a lot of very strange ideas that definitely earn the title of 'weird stories'.

I think one reason why I didn't stick it out to the end was that, despite the huge amount of variation between the stories (length, context, style) they all seemed to have very similar thematic undertones, i.e. that there is a world beyond this one occ
Erin the Avid Reader ⚜BFF's with the Cheshire Cat⚜
Well this is a great way to kick-off before Halloween!
Apr 04, 2014 Alex rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
Arthur Machens the White People allows us a peek into an otherworld that at once revolts and captivates. The greater part of the story is told from the perspective of a young girl as she records her exploration of a forbidden landscape. She has come into esoteric knowledge that allows her to enter into an enchanted dimension that is both full of wonder and dread.

The world that she traverses as it is described so simply and powerfully by Machen held me spellbound, and stayed with me long after I
After being quite disappointed with The Great God Pan, I felt a certain obligation to give Machen another shot, given all the Lovecraft comparisons he had received. And with this collection, I was pretty legitimately impressed. Time and time again, the Victorian man of science gets his ass handed to him by darker, weirder forces than he could have imagined, all rooted in the pagan past that, in Machen's time, certainly still lurked in the wilder corners of the British Isles. Not every story was ...more
Bryan Alexander
May 31, 2016 Bryan Alexander rated it it was amazing
It's a delight to reread Arthur Machen. One can admire his craft, his passion for the otherworldly and for nature. It's even more of a pleasure to read his stories for the first time. I've read some of these before, over the years, and relished the chance to immerse myself in tales of beauty and the supernatural.

In this second volume of Chaosium's Machen trilogy we start to see a lot of also-rans in terms of content. Fully a quarter of the book is given over to the author's novella "A Fragment of Life," which is about as weird fiction as my stories of changing the cat box, and another thirty-odd pages to what Joshi charitably refers to as prose-poems, which read like an artist's warm-up sketch.

Thankfully, there are a few of the more known works collected here, including "The Red Hand" (which I enjoyed)
Deren Kellogg
Nov 12, 2014 Deren Kellogg rated it it was amazing
Arthur Machen was a Welsh writer of weird fiction who worked in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Before I read this collection I was only familiar with his most often anthologized story, "The Great God Pan." This collection really blew me away. Particularly fine was the final story, "The Terror", a novella about mysterious deaths in Wales during the summer of 1915. Also superior were the stories, "The Novel of the Black Seal" and "The Red Hand", but all the stories in this collection were very ...more
Jun 12, 2011 Jason rated it really liked it
If you are a fan of HP Lovecraft, Ambrose Bierce, EA Poe, Bradbury, should already know and/or have read Machen. If you somehow have missed many have...this is a GREAT new collection of his stories - only missing Great God Pan and Hill of Dreams to make it perfect. The aura and ambiance created in Machen's tales are without peer . . . and while he seems prone to the run-on descriptive mega-long paragraph, the whole of the stories flow over you like a gentle river until you ...more
Thomas Edmund
Jul 09, 2016 Thomas Edmund rated it liked it
Highly recommended for Lovecraft fans, the White People is not some sort of supremacist fiction if any are frightened by the name. At first I really enjoyed the collection, stories 1 and 2 read like Lovecraft + good characterization, however as the stories continued things seemed to meander somewhat. While there were some powerful individual scenes and intriguing premises overall the stories were difficult for me to get attached to and I found myself longing to finish each story to get them out ...more
Jeannie Sloan
Frankly,I was bored by this second installment of Machen.I think because the first book was so good I am very let down by this one.I also didn't bother to finish it because of one of the stories dragging on into everyday home life.Frankly,there was nothing very weird going on and I found that I just couldn't finish the story or the book.I will probably try to read it again because I know that the reviews were pretty good and maybe I am being impatient.I tend to want something to be going on that ...more
Jul 09, 2012 Tycoon rated it really liked it
Some very good stories in here, especially the Novel of the Black Seal, Novel of the White Powder, The Red Hand, and The Terror. Gets a little dull in the middle, mostly because A Fragment of Life starts out fantastically mundane (the central couple spends 5 pages of debate over which stove to purchase) and then goes a little haywire. I'd like to read more Machen, because he's a much better writer than Lovecraft, and the stories are in the same vein.
Roger Whitson
Mar 25, 2015 Roger Whitson rated it it was amazing
Brilliant edition of one of the best horror authors of all time. "The White People" will change how you view children and nature forever. "The Novel of the Black Seal" is probably the scariest thing I've read this side of Mieville. My only complaint (4.5 stars) is that the anthology doesn't include "The Great God Pan," which took me three reads to figure out -- it's so claustrophobic and sparse at the end.

Aug 27, 2015 Dylan marked it as to-read
What an accurate title for a collection of horror stories, "The White People"
Alan Rader
Aug 29, 2015 Alan Rader rated it liked it
The title story, "The White People," sets up a distinction between sin and malicious action. Sin, so the argument runs, does not actually entail what western civilization commonly believes. An act of murder, even cold blooded murder carried out with malicious intent, is not in and of itself a sin. Though we rightfully imprison murderers, their actions are bad not due to any inherent wickedness but because the deeds disrupt and forestall the normal function of society in general. Morality then is ...more
This is one of those collections which earns a lower rating through no fault of its own: it does the best it can with what it has, but the limitations of the material occasionally drag it down. This second, later collection of Machen's works begins brilliantly. "The Red Hand" is a murder mystery with a sinister paranormal bent, as readable as a mystery should be but in no way insubstantial. The prose-poems of Ornaments in Jade are remarkable: their brevity and style make them hugely consumable ...more
Oct 05, 2012 Wilco rated it really liked it
Having never heard of this author, i was in my local bookstore browsing some fantasy shelves when a book fell over and revealed this hidden gem to me. Intrigued by the cover art i decided to pick it up and i have to say it hasn't disappointed me.

As the title indicates this is a collection of works from Arthur Machen, the most famous one being 'The white people'. All of the stories are interesting and some keep you wondering in a positive way. The only issue i have with is style is that he somet
Joel Ayala Alicea
May 31, 2015 Joel Ayala Alicea rated it did not like it
Actually, it was not this exact book that I read and I'm going to review just now. The one that I actually read is 'Tales of Arthur Machen' but it seems to be rather difficult to find, so this one will have to do. Besides, it's not much what I have to say about Mr. Machen. All of his work (well, at least what I've read of his works so far) is redundant and extremely boring. What about 'The white people', that so-called “grandiose” tale of supernatural forces unknown to mankind? Pure crap, ...more
James Oden
Nov 19, 2013 James Oden rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I want to give this book a five and at the same time I want to give it a three. Why am I so torn. Well on the positive side Arthur Machen is a wonderful prose writer. You know how sometimes you're reading something and every word just seems to fit into place in a way that is remarkable and almost makes the words disappear as the story emerges. Well Machen's masterful writing will do that to you. So on that side I want to give him a five. However, the stories themselves always find a way to ...more
Edward Keller
Apr 04, 2014 Edward Keller rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Written in the late 1890's, published in 1904.
Awesome eerie, weird, unsettling, disconserting atmospherics, with the obligatory philosophical rambglings about true good and evil thrown in. All bow to the master.

Quote (from journal the protagonist reads):
And there were other rocks that were like animals, creeping, horrible animals, putting out their tongues, and others were like words that I could not say, and others like dead people lying on the grass. I went on among them, though they frighten
Mar 21, 2014 Patrick rated it it was amazing
Shelves: scary-fiction
There are many good ghost story writers, but there are only a handful of "masters" of this genre. M.R. James and Lord Dunsany are two such gifted storytellers. Arthur Machen is one of the best and, arguably, a true master of the bone-chilling stories...the true classics. Machen (1863-1947) took the haunted house and cursed graveyard narratives into a new realm, a realm that is both dark, terrifying and mythic. Fans of H. P. Lovecraft will recognize the style and iconic themes that Machen ...more
Si Barron
Nov 25, 2012 Si Barron rated it really liked it
Just picked this up at random from the library- having never heard of Machen before I didn't know what to expect- but then it comes with a recommendation from Lovecraft on the back blurb so I thought I'd give it a go.

The first thing to note is that the writing itself is beautiful, it reads like a dream and one can go very fast through it, which is a boon because the short stories themselves actually move quite slowly many of them have extended set-ups with narrators inside narrators.

The plots ar
Jonas Wilmann
Apr 18, 2013 Jonas Wilmann rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this collection of short stories, though the title story somewhat disappointed me. Ingeniously told in the voice of a young girl (experiencing strange encounters in the woods) it still felt like somewhat of a mess. The prologue was the best bit in this story, where two men discuss the subject of sin.

‘The novel of the black seal’ and ‘The novel of the white powder’ (both from ‘The three impostors’), some of Machens most chilling horror stories, are also included in this volume, b
Dec 29, 2013 Avid rated it liked it
I was influenced to look into Arthur Machen from a fan made short about one of his stories. The short was keeping with the tradition of HP Lovecraft: subtle, suggestive and vague.

The author writes beautifully.

However, I am not a classical reader so I am un familiar with all the literary terms and forms. But I found this book's use of description a little too long for me. And his hints of the horror is only a hint.

I love Horror and I prefer my horror on the ghost, supernatural, unnameable evil
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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
More about Arthur Machen...

Other Books in the Series

The Best Weird Tales of Arthur Machen (3 books)
  • The Three Impostors and Other Stories
  • The Terror

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“There are strange things lost and forgotten in obscure corners of the newspaper.” 11 likes
“We lead two lives, and the half of our soul is madness, and half heaven is lit by a black sun. I say I am a man, is the other that hides in me?” 10 likes
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