Friday, July 06, 2018

The Lovecraftian Thing a Day (2018) No.187: The Three Imposters

It seems apposite that the very first book I purchased during my recent stay in Hay-on-Wye was this copy of Arthur Machen’s The Three Imposters (rather uninspiringly subtitled And Other Creepy Stories) - given that the author is without doubt Monmouthshire’s most famous son (at least as far as the field of wierd fiction is concerned).

Notably, this 2014 edition is, to my knowledge, the only UK paperback publication of The Three Imposters since the Everyman Library edition back in 1995.

On somethng of a metatextual note, two chapters of The Three Imposters (an episodic, portmanteau-style novel) - ‘The Novel of the White Powder’ and ‘The Novel of the Black Seal’ - have been widely reprinted as free-standing short stories in any number of anthologies of weird and supernatural fiction; however, in the context of their original setting, it becomes apparent that these tales are being presented as fabrications. Does this then mean that, due to their original literary provenance, two of the greatest supernatural tales ever written may warrant reclassification in relation to - and thus possible exlusion from - the category of supernatural fiction? Probably not; and I’m quite sure that I am not the first to ponder this matter - but it is nonetheless an intriguing aside in relation to the study of Machen’s work.

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