Thursday, July 4, 2024

Young Machen: A Reader of Curious Books

In 2020, Darkly Bright Press published a collection of early essays by Arthur Machen, dating to 1887 when he served as (uncredited) editor of Walford's Antiquarian Magazine and Bibliographical Review. Last year, an expanded reset edition of this book came out from the same press, adding about forty pages worth of material to the one-hundred-plus pages of the earlier edition.  Plus it sports a new cover.  

The contents is not as wide-ranging as the same publisher's other Machen volumes, but it is interesting, especially to bibliophiles.  Plus we get to read Machen's journalism from the age of 24. 

Here is how Christopher Tompkins, editor and publisher of the book, closes his Introduction.

For the certified bibliophile, a lover of literary exploration or the merely curious, a collection of this sort justifies itself. The archaic dispatches are both entertaining for the quality of the prose and interesting for the array of arcane subjects covered. For the modern reader, the forgotten books become living characters with each title owing its existence to the simple suggestion that it does exist. An obtuse debate upon the effect of ancient geographers upon the mind of Roderick Usher only adds to the obscure proceedings, Certainly, it would be possible for a dedicated enthusiast to hunt down each of these tomes. But the mystery would then be dispelled. In a sense, this lost bookshelf functions best as does the library of Don Quijote—a dusty chamber of the possibly dangerous, perhaps banal books which feed the imagination of man . . . that mad mammal.

Details and ordering information can be found here. 

1 comment:

  1. Very much a thing I would be interested in. Machen had incredible taste, and varied as well. Thanks for the information. All it took was reading his book "The Secret Glory" to make me a confirmed fan and enthusiast.