A brief bit of housekeeping first.
Twitter has locked my Twitter account, and I’m able — but unwilling — to meet the requirements to get it back. You can still be informed of new posts by email. I may post updates on another social media site. I haven’t decided yet.
In find myself doing another author series as I did with Ambrose Bierce, Kathe Koja, and William Hope Hodgson. This one will be on Arthur Machen.
It all started after I posted about his “History of the Young Man with Spectacles“. People commented, here and on LibraryThing, that you can’t really understand that story divorced from the context where it first appeared: The Three Impostors; or, The Transmutations.
When I saw S. T. Joshi at a local bookstore, he talked me into buying his just released three volume collection of Machen’s fiction. And, since I was reading that novel, I might as well read the rest of the first volume. And if I was reading the first volume . . .
I’ll also be looking at some of Machen’s non-fiction too. Since Joshi arranged his collection in the order Machen wrote the stories, that’s how I’ll largely be covering them and the non-fiction.
As you can see from this first installment, I won’t be saying a lot about some of them.
No, I don’t know why Joshi dated the volume this appears in with 1888. It seems to have been privately printed and not commercially published until 1925 under the title “The Priest and the Barber”.
The title really tells you all you need to know. It’s a takeoff on Cervantes’ Don Quixote, a book Machen loved and fit his peculiar definition of fine literature. It also shows Machen’s antiquarian interests.
As to the story itself, I have little to say since I know Cervante’s novel only by reputation, and any allusions or parodies of style were lost on me. It’s a conversation about very obscure books (whose titles sound fictitious but could be real) between a barber and a priest.