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3.7 out of 5 stars
6
3.7 out of 5 stars
The Hill of Dreams (Dodo Press)
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on 18 January 2014
Young Lucian strives to become a great writer by trying to express his occult visions whilst becoming increasingly tormented and at odds with humanity. Tremendously good on its evocation of visions entangled with and inspired by ancient landscapes - strong enough to drive me out onto our local ancient fort. Less good on it's characterization such that I never really cared for the central protagonist - perhaps it was the third person narrative. There was enough in this that I would read another one and I will continue to ponder this one when out in the land.
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on 22 February 2008
Arthur Machen is known mostly for his horror writing, but this book, often said to be his masterpiece, is a partly autobiographical tale of Lucien Taylor, a young would-be writer who lives a solitary life and seeks release in his work. There are compelling descriptions of Lucien's feverish attempts to attain Art, through a Rimbaudian disarrangement of the senses, and of his frequent bouts of despair over his lack of progress. There are also vivid descriptions of the visions he experiences on his excursions to the ruins of a Roman fort near his home, which are reminiscent of Machen's horror writing. This is an intense and stimulating book, and an interesting insight into how Machen came to create the nightmarish visions of his horror stories. One small complaint is the disproportionately large number of typos in this Kessinger edition of this relatively short book.
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on 6 October 2011
The Hill of Dreams (published in 1907) is Arthur Machen's semi-autobiographical masterpiece. Machen (1863-1947) was obsessed by his childhood surroundings of Caerlon On Usk in Wales, and the notion of ancient history - the ruins and mounds; the imprint of early civilisations upon the landscape, whose energy is still vibrant with an 'occult rapture' alongside our own time. He was a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and this immaginative tale incorporates many of his ideas and beliefs concerning nature and landscape.
Lucian Taylor is an intense, solitary romantic figure; a sensitive child existing between two worlds, that of reality and fantasy in rural Wales, the land of Machen's boyhood. The Hill of Dreams of the title is an ancient Roman fort where Lucian experiences strange visions of the past, a mystical, pagan realm beyond the veil of illusion; a realm or 'super-reality' normally hidden. Lucian later pursues his desire to be a writer and living in the dark solitude of London, suffers great poverty for his art.
Machen captures perfectly the sensation of a cosmically charged 'other-world' beyond our own which is able, through the sublime portal of the Hill of Dreams, to penetrate and intrude upon our waking world - utterly mesmerising!
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on 5 December 2016
Interesting book. A little difficult to read sometimes as seems to ramble, but then the sun comes out and the intensityof the prose is almost hallucinagenic
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on 20 September 2013
"The Hill of Dreams" is the story of a tortured artist - of obsession, addiction and possession - it's an intense book that is not particularly easy to read and is unlikely to be to everyone's taste.

The main character, Lucian Taylor, is a young writer who has "strayed into fairyland" as a boy and struggles with reality and fantasy as he pursues his art. It captures the world of a visionary outsider very well - the highs and the ultimate disillusion of the creative act. The writing has a swirling, mystic, decadent quality which is doubtless mesmerising for some but overblown and repetitive for others. The imagery that is conjured up is that of Symbolist paintings.

I really wish that I'd read this book when I was younger. I think I would have loved it in my late teens or early 20s, with all its lush bacchanalian atmosphere, but in cynical middle age, I had a hard time finishing it and found both the main character and the writing self-indulgent.

I expect younger people who aspire to be writers would get more out of it - and would be interested to know the struggle to get published today via the traditional industry is not that different to what happened in Edwardian times!
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on 28 October 2013
Not really to my taste but still found it interesting enough to read all the way through.Will revisit it at a later date.Think. it. Is a book that needs reading more than once to understand it.
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