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Al Robertson (London)

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The Great God Pan (Creation Classics)
The Great God Pan (Creation Classics)
by Arthur Machen
Edition: Paperback

20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Machen's great - but this isn't him at his best, 4 Jan. 2002
Hmm - I have to say I agree with some of the comments above. I don't think that 'The Great God Pan' represents Machen at his best, and I've always been slightly puzzled by its cult status.
This isn't to do down Machen. At his best, he was a magnificent horror writer. 'The Three Impostors' (which Lovecraft cheerfully pillaged) is a wonderful read, and communicates a genuine sense of Edwardian oddness - one of the great novels of London suburban surrealism.
It's also worth digging out his more autobiographical novels, 'The Hill of Dreams' et al. Here, he comes across like Dostoevski on opium - some truly amazing writing about life in London at the end of the last century, plus immensely compelling and intense depictions of extreme mental states.
For a good bit of horror, though, I'd start with 'The Three Impostors'.

A Salvo for Africa
A Salvo for Africa
by Douglas Oliver
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars African thoughts from a quartier in Paris, 26 Nov. 2000
This review is from: A Salvo for Africa (Paperback)
Douglas Oliver attempts - and to a great extent pulls off - a mature and well-informed poetical analysis of Africa's problems, and of Europe's relationship to them.
Broken into alternate sections of poetry and prose, 'Salvo' works through the history and current situation of Africa. Oliver uses prose to provide an economical and historical context for modern Africa: in poetry, he explores these problems further, making subliminal links with individual and national European experience while never ducking his own sense of uselessness: how can a poet heal a continent? Even the question is arrogant.
Much modern British poetry is limited in its horizons and ambitions. Oliver, never afraid to take on the big themes, pulls off a work which successfully adresses problems that (as he also recognises) are sometimes far too substantial to admit of individual solution.
Still, if we don't try and sort things out, who else will? Ain't nobody here but us chickens...
Other works of his worth exploring include his selected poems, and the Iain Sinclair edited 'Three Variations on the Theme of Harm' (now sadly out of print) which contains his great personal counterpart to this political poem, 'An Island that is all the World', and 'The Infant and the Pearl', his attack on the selfish politics of the 80's. 'Penniless Politics' also worth a read.

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