The Last Human and Other Supernatural Tales

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Autobiography Gives the history of a person's life, written or told by that person. Biography A written account of another person's life. Drama Stories composed in verse or prose, usually for theatrical performance, where conflicts and emotion as expressed through dialogue and action. Fable A narration demonstrating a useful truth, especially in which animals speak as humans; legendary, supernatural tales. Fairy Tale Stories about fairies or other magical creatures, usually for children.

Fantasy Fiction with strange or other worldly settings or characters, fiction which invites suspension of reality.

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Fiction Narrative literary works whose content is produced by the imagination and is not necessarily based on fact. Fiction in Verse Full-length novels with plot, subplots, themes, with major and minor characters, in which the narrative is presented in blank verse form. Historical Fiction Story with fictional characters and events in a historical setting.

Horror Fiction in which events evoke a feeling of dread in both the characters and the reader. Humor Fiction full of fun, fancy and excitement, meant to entertain. Informational Books Factual writing that informs a reader about a topic. Legend Story, sometimes of a national or folk hero, which has a basis in fact but also includes imaginative material.

Mythology Legend or traditional narrative , often based in part on historical events, that reveals human behavior and natural phenomena by its symbolism; often pertaining to the actions of the gods. Narrative Nonfiction Factual information presented in a format which tells a story. Nonfiction Informational text dealing with an actual, real life subject.

Poetry Verse and rhythmic writing that evokes an emotional response form the reader. As underlined before, Helen is the daughter of a Semele-like mortal woman and thus may also be seen as a female incarnation of Dionysus, the son of Semele by Zeus. Among the paraphernalia of the seductress is a beverage that is allegedly a thousand years old and thus another survival from the past.

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The wine of Vaughan is thus another wine of the faun and the femme fatale is a poisonous woman who corrupts men, body and soul. Seen through the prism of the naive narrator, a young girl, the ceremony seems harmless enough, were it not for the mention of people mysteriously disappearing:. Then they all rose up and danced, and secret things were brought out of some hiding place, and they played extraordinary games, and danced round and round and round in the moonlight, and sometimes people would suddenly disappear and never be heard of afterwards, and nobody knew what had happened to them.

In other words, Machen explored the two facets of the double-natured god, who may symbolize both regression to primordial chaos and spiritualization through mystic union. The key word becomes ecstasy, and wine is quite often used as a symbol of this uncommon, extramundane experience.

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Antiquity is here presented as a wiser age whose myths should be seen as hinting at higher truths. Within the myth, wine is a symbol of the knowledge provided by spiritual elevation.

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This view is inextricably linked with the idea of mystic intoxication or inebriation, which opens the door to another world, the world of the gods or of the higher realities. That the subject interested him deeply is highlighted by the fact that he spends no less than thirteen pages discussing the use of wine in Rabelais, also including considerations on the use of punch in Dickens. The amateur sleuths that investigate the strange occurrences are sometimes shown drinking wine to the point of slight inebriation.

These episodes may be put in parallel with the absorption of strange beverages during the initiation rites that are described or hinted at within the same texts: they are the other, less obvious side of the coin. Indeed, the way the episodes are described suggests the performance of a secret ceremony.

Pagan Revenants in Arthur Machen’s Supernatural Tales of the Nineties

Moreover, the two drinkers are sitting in a garden-like courtyard in the middle of London, a beautiful enclave of nature complete with blooming flowers, glossy creepers and a trickling fountain. By wine man is made a writer:. As for Dionysus, he appears here as the god of inspiration. This veil is also the sacramental veil of the Eucharist, which both contains and conceals the divine reality.

Indeed, Machen very often uses Eucharistic imagery in his reflections on the art of literature. In Hieroglyphics , he calls the pure emotion felt by the writer the Idea, using, as he often does, the Platonic term to refer to the other reality. The Welsh author can in no way be suspected of such ignorance, as is evidenced by the sacramental use of wine in his fiction. In his tales of supernatural horror, pagan wine functions as a portal to another sphere, to the awful reality that lies behind the veil.

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Later in his career, the Christian symbol of the Grail takes centre stage, as a means of access to a paradisiacal world beyond. Caron , Evelyne. Imko , Victor.


Farnham: Ashgate, Merivale , Patricia. Machen , Arthur. The Three Impostors and Other Stories. Oakland, CA: Chaosium, The White People and Other Stories. The Terror and Other Stories. The Hill of Dreams. Mineola, NY: Dover, Far Off Things. The Secret Glory. Hieroglyphics, a Note upon Ecstasy in Literature.

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London: Jonathan Cape, Eleusinia and Beneath the Barley. West Warwick, RI: Necronomicon, Masurel-Murray , Claire. Paris: Presses Sorbonne nouvelle, Mighall , Robert. Nash , Bertha.

  • Pagan Revenants in Arthur Machen’s Supernatural Tales of the Nineties.
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Minor British Novelists.