Friday, February 25, 2022

Friends and Relations by Elizabeth Bowen (1)


Friends and Relations by Elizabeth Bowen

All my reviews of Bowen novels will be linked here:

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My gestalt real-time review will be conducted in the comment stream below:



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8 responses to “Friends and Relations by Elizabeth Bowen

  1. “He would be shot, he said, if he let one past him…”

    Part I
    Edward and Rodney


    “The bride’s relations frowned in sleep and were roused with a sense of doom by rain’s inauspicious mutter on roofs and windowsills. Clouds with their reinforcements came rolling over the Malvern hills.”

    A new Laurelbow from the Laura in the previous novel The last September that I reviewed….
    The wedding of Laurel Studdart & Edward Tilney, confused as I am by Wolf Cubs, little girls, Cousin Richard directing people-traffic hoping to not let one past him, Theodora Thirdman (15) (gauche and ungainly?) being, possibly, as well as a mock ‘shadowy third’, a sort of older version of Evadne Price’s Jane who was arguably a female Just William, and while wondering who, out of Mrs Studdart, Lady Elfrida Tilney & Mrs Daubeney, is the demon Bowen matriarch …. while, earlier, from 10.30 to Noon, Laurel and her father “Colonel Studdart, shut into the morning-room, played demon patience.” He never having given away a daughter before! And after the rain ceased, there was sunshine…

    “the graves glittered.”

    “A playing-card, overlooked, lay face down on the carpet. Edward stooped for it – ‘Don’t!’ she cried, ‘leave it!’ her heart in her mouth.”

    Some business with lilies and Mrs S.

    “Lady Elfrida Tilney tittering in the porch.”


    Julien Sorel mentioned – Stendhal’s The Scarlet and the Black? (see one of my closing quotes from The Last September)

    “Alex and Willa Thirdman remained in the drawing-room doorway, turning this way and that their charming, anxious faces.”
    Theodora Thirdman “had gained the buffet without being forced to acknowledge the bridal pair by the simple expedient of pushing her way through the hall door and walking round outside the house.”

    “The bride’s two attendants, little girls grilled to the waist, with pink knickers, had escaped from old gentlemen on to the spongy lawn. Here they were playing clock golf till the cake should be cut.”

    A long wonderful Bowenesque description of Laurel at the nd of this chapter, and I think I have a reasonable fist upon most of the characters introduced. 

    “Janet, the bride’s younger sister, knew that Cousin Richard would be certain, sooner or later, to say ‘Pass along the car, please.’”

    And one of the comparatively few elbows in this novel compared to the other nine Bowen novels…
    “At this point Theodora, opening her mouth to speak, saw Mrs Daubeney being removed by a skilful touch on the elbow.”

  2. 0F128C63-C224-4437-B5FE-8D51CEEE1F0B
    03DAD693-8033-47CC-A275-889B00DDDDF7D40AB67C-7433-45D2-9593-7F18FE3A8B8EPart 1 (2)

    “For the Studdarts, the summer of 192– was to prove eventful. […] Six weeks after the wedding of Laurel, Janet announced her engagement to Rodney Meggatt.”

    The Studdarts of Cheltenham…
    Janet, more forbidding than her sister Laurel, is invited, after latter’s wedding, to ——shire with three new dresses from her father as consolation, a tennis party at Batts Monachorum, and she meets Rodney, but he is unfortunately connected by Lady Elfrida’s past adultery with the cross-pollen of of these sororal affairs, or so I understand. But Elfrida makes this no bar to J marrying R. 

    This Bowen novel is an attempt at a more traditional one, also as a sort of romcom that is not as Bowenesque as might be more natural to her, with info-dumps of descriptions of characters in this chapter, dashes for missing dates and placenames, and a defiantly bland title for the whole novel. Yet, I sense Bowenesqueness will creep into it like a Siamese cat….

    “Rodney’s uncle Considine had been Lady Elfrida’s co-respondent.”

    “….they felt Rodney was owed to her [Janet]. The growing-up together of Meggatt and Tilney children might well heal the ugliness of that adultery, cheerfully re-linking the two names. […] She was to be an October bride: one could forecast chrysanthemums, a certain quality in the sunshine. Janet (though she did not clearly formulate this or any idea) personified Weather as someone feminine, tractable while perverse, agreeably subject to the dominance of some wills, upon whom Rodney could not fail to exercise a compulsion.”

    “some triangular awkwardness;”

    “failed with the demigoddess.”
    …if not with Cheltenham carytids?

    Elfrida speaking to Janet about Laurel and Edward…
    “They are like sparrows tugging little pieces of things about; little patterns, you know, of the wrong brocades.”

    “The Siamese, reappearing like a malign sun over the cushions, looked at his mistress with penetration, without sympathy.”

  3. Part 1 (3)

    “She [Laurel] returned all the patterns Lady Elfrida deprecated to the wrong shops and was in tears when Edward came home because they would never have any curtains now.”

    Edward Tilney and Laurel, his fearful backstory as a boy, the Considine and Elfrida backdrop, with C thankfully now mostly in Africa…. Why does this talk of C initially remind me of someone in Eva Trout? Why does the name Tilney remind me of Jane Austen?

    “They lay side by side on their two low beds as on tombs and were each aware in the other, falling asleep, of the same carven air of finality. […] their fingers groped for each other over the chasm between the beds. A small thrill animated the tombs.”

    Laurel and Jane meet, with a quadrilateral meeting planned with Edward and Rodney.
    People have been contacting Laurel now she is in London…
    “And the girl Theodora Thirdman had rung up, no one could think why.”

    “Sun streamed in generously; from chairs and cushions colour must already be makins: a ghostly departure.”

    A mini Bowenesque cigarette dance ensues….
    “Janet, who seldom smoked, took a cigarette from the shagreen box and lit it seriously. […] …Janet landed her ash in the little tray with lotuses.”

    “When he [Edward] was six he asked if his mother was dead and they said, “Practically.” You can imagine what he felt about that; he had just seen a skeleton.”

    Laurel as seen through the eyes of Sylvia, the servant…
    “…she had tried to suggest that Sylvia and Simpson should dress like waitresses in a fancy teashop,…”
    But they would not have it, nor allow Laurel to “have a dog, children or dinner-parties.”

    Returning earlier than was expected of him, with the two sisters still together…
    “Mr Tilney stood blindly, as though the hall were the coal-hole.”

  4. Part 1 (4)

    “Theodora had a very clear view of her family’s situation; it was important that the Thirdmans, after long exile, should establish themselves in England. […]
    Returning, third class, knee-to-knee with the Bowleses, she [Theodora] glowered a general disparagement from under her bright hat. […]
    …her spectacles magnifying a horror of that cold lake, of the bleak excellence of her Swiss education. […]
    The telephone became at once her distraction and torture. […]
    She must have lain kicking her heels against the wall, for they heard thump – thump – thump against the thin partition.”

    Theodora Thirdman is Society’s socially greedy but shadowy third, solid enough, though, with her glasses and perhaps unmatureable ‘figure’ at a ‘difficult’ age, an interesting theme and variations on other Bowen girls of a similar age, on the brink of growing up into a novel.
    “And why does Father always carry a mackintosh?” Well, Alex, this father, later eyes Janet…
    The thump thump thump of Theodora’s future thump of death’s falling apples. While she masquerades as fruity-voiced Lady Hunter Jervois on the telephone, importuning Laurel and others for their yearned for society, as they the Thirdmans have been in Swiss exile. Laurelbow, Bowle(ses)…

    Now taken by mother Willa and Alex to Mellyfield in Surrey, to check out a school for her, something fated to stunt her society ambitions? She looks at a kid outside the school’s window and turns her mind to Considine whom she also rings!

    “A child running past the window in a scarlet tunic made happiness concrete, the lawns stood solid in sunshine, a piano-study issuing from a floor above built up a diligent self-rewarding pattern over this shining silence of application and still trees. […]
    Considine – something came alive, she could perfectly see him: disengaged, blasé, rucking a tiger-skin, backed by the major feline masks, almost visibly shredded – like a fine, upgrowing thistle on a cobwebby morning – with feminine reputations.”

    The good tiger?
    “the ‘rational’ bodices”
    “Willa, in the marabout boa, massaging over each thumb her carefully cleaned gloves,…”
    And something about Janet, Theodora’s racquet and Alex….

    “Have Rodney and Edward met before?’
    ‘Never,’ said Janet.”

    Theodora: about the prospects of school, thinking of the tiger as the King in Yellow?…. (The Siamese cat is now winning?)
    “I am like a dog going to the lethal chamber.”

  5. Part 1 (5)

    “Edward and Rodney arrived at the Ionides some minutes before either Laurel or Janet. Janet had miscalculated the distance from Gloucester Road and Laurel had changed her dress twice. […]
    They had both thrown cigarettes away and now brought their cases out simultaneously; Edward had one of Rodney’s, but Rodney preferred his own. He seemed likeable, a scrupulous, slow young man, without the disengagedness of Considine, that light-hearted, light-handed seducer who (Edward had come to believe) even shot lions negligently.”

    A short chapter (Bowen’s shortest novel chapter?), as the two brothers-in-law meet amid their own cigarette dance and the various latenesses of the two sisters, one with a green hat? Or does that go the same way that everything else goes in this chapter, even as far as my short-term memory is concerned? And Rodney’s Uncle Considine – where is he due to fit in?

  6. Part 1 (6)

    “The Siamese cat slid past Rodney’s legs as he slowly looked at her [Elfrida] in surprise.”

    Later to trace that cat’s spine.
    Some business about curtains, too, and, then, Rodney and Elfrida meet again after their recent first meeting, and discuss Janet and his marriage to her.

    A clumsy paragraph I did not fully understand but one that needs quoting as something one needs to read so as to fully understand Bowen! —

    “He recollected having heard that she [Elfrida] was impossible. She was certainly feminine, and because she chose to appear rather charmingly muddled and inconsequent he set her down as astute, more astute than she was. Brought up on Considine’s cheerful ruthless generalizations as to the Sex, Rodney reacted towards a careful slowness of judgement on any woman. The Sex did not interest him; till now they had, as persons, appeared alarmingly like one another in only one particular: an aptness to set stages out on to which one stepped unawares and where it was impossible to behave without consciousness. Janet had pleased him by a rather masculine unawareness of ‘situation’.”

    Discussion of Considine and any uneasiness under a roof with herself 

    Talk (talk by or to whom or just E’s thoughts?) of one of Edward’s boyhood’s Christmases, tinsel catching fire, a teddy bear present from Considine: a name that assonates with ‘coincidence’. Will he be coming to the wedding, as he is still in Greece?…

    “For this unhappy mother of Edward’s – now so contentedly tracing her cat’s spine – was for himself and Janet a major, almost a tragic, coincidence. Bearing down, spectacular as an iceberg over the sunny waters of their engagement, she had so nearly wrecked them.”

    Note to self as aide memoire: Lady Elfrida once had an adulterous relationship and left Edward’s father for a man [Considine, Rodney’s uncle] who then didn’t marry her.

    “Lewis was Edward’s best friend. […] Lewis rang up Edward at midnight to tell him everything would be all right.”

  7. Part 1 (7)

    “One of the girls had been nearly captured by brigands;”

    Bowen’s brigands are legendary! And so are her Eva Trout like school dormitories for Jane Turpin like girls, here Marise (sister of Lewis) being the head of dormitory, as Theodora starts her first term at Mellyfield, all girls interested in each other’s characters as well as carrots! “Theodora went in to geometry with earth in her teeth.” Radishes, too, and sitting in potting-sheds, too! Marise, whose brother was best man at the Tilney wedding, spreads rumours about Janet and Rodney. Theodora (who becomes an actress in school plays, say, as a man who walks with elbows splayed) masquerades on the phone as her own mother when talking to Elfrida about such rumours! As an aside, we learn E’s Siamese is called Sixtus, a double set of shadowy triangulations? Or a pair of Thirdmans? And, meantime, does one’s stomach have intermissions or rest periods in the digestive work it does? A beautiful shadowy June for this first term….

    “….girls, stepping in and out of the windows, crossed the lawns from shadow to shadow in fluttering red tunics;”

    “In mid-morning break she [Theodora] played the Rachmaninoff prelude in G sharp minor loudly on the gymnasium piano…”

    “She [Theodora] made her first impression on Jenna, who collected tortures. Theodora knew of two new ones, one Chinese, something to do with a rat, and one Italian, with weights. Jenna went green, became quite friendly and asked Theodora if she had ever been into a used vault. Neurosis had quite a value at Mellyfield; the third night Theodora shrieked with confidence when a bat came into the dormitory.” 


    And possibly the most important quotation in the whole of Bowen*…

    “Men walk with their elbows out, women walk with their elbows in”

    *other than perhaps: “ You look like a statue, up there against the sky! Whatever I do or say, or don’t do or say, do forgive me…” (Eva Trout)

Saturday, February 19, 2022

King Satyr by Ron Weighell



My previous reviews of Ron Weighell: and Sarob Press:

When I read this book during 2022, my thoughts will appear in the comment stream below…

20 thoughts on “King Satyr – Ron Weighell


    “‘Then a hippocentaur joined his voice to that of the conch, and sang of Kardus Phallum,…”

    This text is breathtaking, particularly its Aristeus, later to become nemonymous, fragments, fragments that become here a blended apotheosis of the wondrous prose of John Gale, Clark Ashton Smith, Lord Dunsany and Ron Weighell, as weighed in the balance of Saint Satyr’s resting place and the ‘sacred’ness of this San Satiro as well as the ‘satiric’, if not satirical, genius of the older times, the ‘Old Ones’ with the older Panic magicks, before the Christian ‘lies’ (and threats to report so-called ‘demonic utterances’) began to airbrush them from our eyes… till now?

    “…when the solstice boils…”



    “The Shirt of Hell”

    This work seems to be Weighell in an overdrive gear of visionary prose and story-telling that perhaps only comes to writers of a certain potential the nearer they approach the ultimate power of truth and fantasy that transcends all mental and physical ills (even ills unseen or unfelt): and thus it creates a tangible sculpture that is also unseen or unfelt, but is eternally there within the literary gestalt, a gestalt equally its own sculpture as palimpsest of all its constituents. This is manifestly true FROM these words transliterating Sculpture-Hunter Giulio Pagano’s lengthy letter about the pitiful ‘caged satyr’ and the characters surrounding it in more ancient times, including the soft-hearted Elizabetta with whom he fell in love, TO an ostensible fiction as truth, or truth as fiction, about Cyrus Burton as a boy, during the more modern years of my own long-gone youth, seeing a satyr in the woods, and his research into Pan et al in books many of which you and I have read during our lifetimes. Including the Prologue above that we have perforce read more recently.


    “…a Conniption Fit. As a medical diagnosis of someone raving uncontrollably in a state of panic, this was roughly as informative as saying that snow is cold and white.” (My italics)

    Leasehold Cyrus did read, alongside us, the author’s freehold account about Sir Charles Grey with ‘Marble Mania’ and this man’s ‘ship’s ballast’ acquirements of ancient specimens of art, including the dropped and thus then armless status Venus, and about a press-ganged man called Hannibal Gammon who, in a red smock, and as with viral infections passing from what is not human to what is possibly human, catches the satyr mode on a castaway island. And this seems to segue by that ‘coincidence’ mentioned here or by simple randomness to Cyrus’ consideration of Alphonsus Gaunt and his satyrical art. With other thoughts including – Gammon’s urinating on what he thought was a statue of a satyr status, and thus ending up a satyr himself? – the blowing out of brains by any who surveyed these scenes let alone read about them! – the connection with ‘incubos’ (sic) and sexual matters such as women who are attracted by the ‘brooding malevolence’ in the blend of the forbidding and the attractive in certain men – homeless feline strays – and our boyhood view of Mr Tumnus.


    “He was aware, too, of streams of light forming webs in which everything existed, previously unguessed tendrils of energy that linked everything. He spent days wading through an ocean of interacting energy.”

    …and, so, with what was once an unguessed gestalt, now fully guessed, I hope, with random accuracy, I am now pleased to enter the artistically spiritual world of Cyrus in the late sixties and seventies (although my own rite of such a passage started around 1961 when I was 13) — Cyrus here being interacted by the energy of, say, Sergeant Pepper, William Blake, Baudelaire, popular or rock or ‘new age’ music as well as some of the classical music that I love, and Nicholas Hallam, although I have not previously heard of Hallam nor the Simon Renfrey who lured men like Cyrus by the ‘tickling trout’, if not tench, by young women. There is so much here, I cannot cover, but I appreciate, with some necessary self defences, the Miltonic evil/good aspects that I once explored with Egnisism (Mellow/ Singe in The Egnisomicon in the 1960s), although the ‘Satan’ acrostics always defeated me. The Dream and Art gestalt, as I see it in the form of a co-vivid communion, is however brilliantly conveyed here in a semi-real non-fiction of references embodying, say, Theurgy, even Christianity is mentioned, and eventually the amorphous forms of Panic centaurs and satyrs one of the latter having been glimpsed by Cyrus as a boy….and, meanwhile, I empathise with the ‘spiritual leprosy’ and the doubts or sense of guilt that one often has when interacting with certain aspects of the literary or artistic or spiritual gestalt. The Caco-Magi and The Kalli Kanzari, notwithstanding.

  5. Pingback: Weighed In Hell | The Des Lewis Gestalt Real-Time Reviews (from 2008) Edit


    “It was a shock to realise that, in order to produce an image that was the right way up for me, Gaunt had to be drawing it upside down.”

    A sprawling chapter that I found consciously confusing, but, meanwhile, it is one that needs to be absorbed osmotically to fully appreciate the often subsuming style and hidden messages and books and music LPs that are concocted, ironically, by this book’s own ‘Questionable English Source’, indeed, in a style that feels frightening, often insidious, and these concoctions now truly exist just like the Necronomicon or Nemonymous Six. The drummer who was snubbed on the song ‘Cave of Pain’ by the group Thiasos. And the drawings drawn by — and Machen hybrids connected to — Alphonsus Gaunt. And another man who once shrieked magical spells with Thiasos and ironically, in older age, he is still exercising a protective magic for himself by dressing as a non-descript suburbanite living in a mock up of his parents’ bland house of yore and collecting easy-listening music. This is incredible stuff as is the stuff where Cyrus is targeted by a bookseller (who sells some of those real, once concocted, books) towards yet another character who will also be tied up with his Satyrical rite of passage, such as San Satiro who once helped the fledgling Christianity cult, and The King of the Satyrs after whom or which this also real posthumous Weighell book is entitled — and whoever is “reading aloud particular combinations of letters”, do beware, as Cyrus is told! Maybe this review of it and of those words or sounds needs similar absorption by osmosis, too!

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    Pages 56 – 64

    “He felt if he could absorb the power of the Great God Pan, he could control the whole world.”

    And now that Cyrus actually meets a gurgling’ Hector Campion in his home, and views his ‘special’ collection of Gaunts et al, I wonder whether those of us who have chosen to read this book as past fans of Weighell’s works (fans also of the Horror fiction genre tradition as mere daredevil entertainment) should have weighed in the balance the possibility that what we have here would become REAL, even if dressed up as fiction. An Arthur Machen syndrome garlanded with lascivious emblems and a machine of Hellishness dressed up as the ‘ridiculous’, such as a Jew becoming a Christian monk, as well as something “changing through a succession of horrors, each form more grotesque than the one before” —whatever the bean-bag device we use to preserve this Sarob book while reading it.
    Not only the “cunning old Welsh Wizard” seeming “to have created reality.” — so, it is merciful that I myself am only half Welsh, bearing in mind what the other half may have become!

    “Cyrus had never seen a more convincing depiction of the horned god of the forest, stirring up disturbing memories of his childhood encounter with The Man in the Wood.”

    • Pages 64 – 71

      “There was fear beyond anything he had experienced before. It was hunting him among the pillars. Cyrus escaped by going down into the velar, the stinking goat-squid.”

      …one of his dreams following the visit to Campion, as part of his debriefing with the bookseller Rupert, out of which follow other leads to the capturing of Gaunt’s artistic or spiritual essence,, and I anticipate Cyrus’ appointment with a woman called Aridela.
      And this text is also our own path to antiquarian researches alongside Cyrus, given some of the crucial texts in italics to study for ourselves. I also appreciate Weighell’s own assumed coyness at some of of concepts he is laying at our door of ‘the Gay aspect of Pan’, ‘the Rigid God’, as well as names and words if read aloud that may do us damage. I wonder who is the ‘twerp’, a word Weighell uses, him or the reader? The coyness, too, in slipping in place names anonymously, like Welchester Cathedral, where our bibilomancipal searching for Hallam and Gaunt alongside Cyrus as the (coy?) representative of Weighell takes place for a short while. The Wasteland and Pound’s Cantos, notwithstanding. And the disarming aspects of Cyrus’s day jobs — drainage and dough! The mangled Chinese Whispers, too. Much word-sensitive semantics of merging animals with monsters and the merging of various world religions, amidst the otherwise cosmic nameology. We all need a skull-cap perhaps to ward off any dust, as we delve into this satyRon of antiquarian bibliohells.



    A beautiful description, I found. But what’s its name? Fufluns, and it belongs to Aridela, daughter of the woman depicted in ‘China Rose’, the daughter being a stunning Pre-Raphaelite sorceress whom Cyrus visits. Her garden has two monumental, if not monomental, stone heads, Bacchus and Ariadne, and amidst further antiquarian and theosophical research inferred by the reader as being faced with, we are also entertained with an old film of her mother amidst a voodoo ceremony summoning what we can only assume to be the satyr or djinn otherwise known as Bou Jeloud or Bon Jeloud, unless I am mistaken. In fact, Cyrus somehow knows its eyes. And, later, despite Cyrus’ swan-like cavorting with Aridela, any fuller description seems doused by coyness, and he crashes out alone on the sofa.. (sorry for any spoilers).



    “…ghosts tended to haunt places, not people.”

    Aridela and Cyrus visit 13 Deyton Street, London, in her Citroen CV. (My wife once owned a Citroen CV, but there the resemblance ends!)
    And this is the address where Gaunt once lived in the 1950s. They find it derelict and they force entry, where Cyrus, against all the odds, finds some Gaunt residua and lists of strange names, and Cyrus encounters an old woman the description of whose emerging you might find difficult to forget. And, later, there is much italicised material for us to read when they return to Aridela’s place, accounts of Littman trekking across the Desert, with Hallam, and some quest about Sufi initiation. Children with no pupils, too. How can one review this book? It simply is. Sometimes with a ludicrous quality that can’t be pinned down, but serves to work into some angles of your brain that less ludicrous works cannot manage. Just to add— Aridela and Cyrus now seem to be sharing a bed, but coyly we’re not sure exactly what that entails.

    ”Kow menee off your Sunbims?”


    “Oh no Mr Mole, you assume far too much
    When you covet the pants of the Lord!
    How could your small weapon begin to compare
    With the Father’s swift double-edged sword?”

    Littman’s early youthful poetry seems so much like my own, and his subsequent behaviour in an old people’s home, having once been tutored in Baudelaire and perhaps in much else by Hallam, reminds me of what I predict my own demented behaviour very soon to be when consigned to such an establishment, and visited by people like Cyrus and Aridela! Still, that’s where the resemblance ends!
    And Hallam’s invocation of Pan hidden in a small press published story perhaps like one of my own numerous such published stories of yore — a story that we are allowed to read here, and I wonder how the balance of satire and truth can be Weighed in Hell.
    I sometimes have to stop laughing when reading this book in order to be serious about it, and vice versa! It is a unique mix of the ludicrous and the sacred. A Satyricon indeed! An Invocation-Gestalt still waiting to happen in the room where I read it and where I write these very notes and first impressions in real-time.


    “…without wine, there could not be wisdom or happiness. The most precious of their brews was called ‘My’.”

    Aridela recounted to Cyrus ”the true history of the horned and hoofed race still revered in Greece as the Kalli Kanzari.
    And she persuades him to join the Order of Saint Satyr, aka the Order of San Satiro. And she takes him to Kings Pomeroy (a sort of Tudor Pile one might also find in Reggie Oliver), but this was Sir Charles Grey’s pile, as it were, as dominated by his portrait, and where there are libations, ceremonies, arcane volumes etc., and where he will be initiated into the Order, I guess. And he and Aridela coyly ‘Christen’ the four-poster in their room!


    “And Lovecraft stayed on Shub-Niggurath Street!”

    The feast before the fast, eating stuffed peacock, choice dormice chosen from cages etc, and a gathering full of libations, wine talk and song, drunk leopards, and Symposium becomes Satyrica following earlier banter about which of the famous authors of weird fiction drew back at the last moment from full frontals with Pan et al. Sir Thomas Browne, notwithstanding.

    “…Arthur Machen Panicked and jumped off at Pandemonium Halt!”

  13. Beware spoilers! Or do duly read them below and thus be pre-warned by me!


    “They chanted in unison ‘Tauros drakontos Kai pater taurou drakon” and each drank from a bowl of floating mushrooms.”

    I wonder whether the seriousness of this chapter, indeed of this wholebbook as an eventual gestalt-in-potentia — apparently loaded with ludicrous rites and names and words — is indeed serious to the core, and that its author actually believes it all, and is taking the readers into their own unchartered waters of belief in fiction, and my own erstwhile fearless faith in fiction is here being tested, taking me where I do not wish to go. Taking me towards dangerous rites embodied in so-called fiction. Taking me, Panicking, beyond Pandemonium Halt! I say this due to what happens to Lysander by the end of this chapter. Both Christian and Pagan crucifixion to death. Meantime, there is much in this chapter ostensibly to enjoy, despite the apparent disappointments of Cyrus (and the appearance of Aridela as a gorgon perhaps!), indeed an array of rites and fasts after feasts and a concomitant music festival, and their traipsing around temples in the grounds of Sir Charles Grey’s house, with debaucheries as well as religious devotion, but not actually ‘sleeping with panthers’ (in the way I effectively express my fears of this book above) but being joyfully chased by panthers as ‘placid’ beasts…. And other factors of literary delight: e.g. “Euphemia, or cultic purity”, and “Plato’s telestic madness!”

    “His angel had become a ravening monster.”


    “With the grounds outside still scattered like a warzone…”

    …and subsequent to such remains of so-called revelry at Grey’s House, this novel starts wrestling itself into a subtle literary novel instead of a genre horror one, nor a darkly or inspirationally ceremonial ritual / tract, now here with the dilemmas of Cyrus in wrestling with himself post-Lysander, evolving into a break from Aridela, and his working on civic duties in a mental institution, and the comfort of his self, as when a child, with books, but now eschewing anything Panic, except an evil faun or satyr creeps up on him from a William Morris book, just as once when he was a real child rather than an imagined one. However, Cyrus is not going to withdraw into Brendan Malone’s worship of suburban blandness, but Cyrus does eventually visit Rupert and is given the heads up about a man called Westfall on the south coast of England. Yes, from warzone to Westfall.

    [Just an added intermediary note here: I shall NOT yet be reading this book’s material, outside the novel itself (material such as the author’s wife’s Introduction, his own Afterword and the Bibliography.) When I have finished the review of the novel itself, I shall probably read this material, but I shall not be reviewing it here. This is because of my lifelong faith in the essentially literary theory of ‘The Intentional Fallacy’, an expression that is googleable if you are interested.]


    “It seemed that all that had been missing was a little sacrifice to the God of the vines.”

    …and that may be a reference to this chapter’s Cyrus and Westfall talking about vintages of wine, but it seems highly ironic bearing in mind what happened to Lysander! And in the light of the two men’s talk about the Galilean’s merely apparent defeat of the Pagan….. even leading to a reference to the ‘Transmigration of Souls’ and ‘racial prejudice’…

    I am old and frail, I often feel, and I live in a seaside place, just like Westfall, but there the resemblance ends, I hope, and it is significant that Westfall is his anonym or nemonym, rather than the name Cyrus finds him to be. Spoilers will never spoil me. Yet, here are ‘deliberate mistakes’, as in Chaucer’s secret codes in The Canterbury Tales. During my escapades in ritual real-time reviewing, I often try to scry meaningful typos and other textual or semantic glitches as part of a book’s gestalt or spirit, this spirit becoming eventually Literature as one. I wonder by which ‘Questionable English Source’ I have been disguised. I will continue to call this old man Westfall, who has realised that Cyrus is so obsessed with Satyrs that he literally stinks of goat. But I cringe at the thought of Goat and Gaunt and Mrs Gathen.. and the people’s ‘Uncle Charlie and Aunty Flo.’ And the freezing hand arising from Westfall’s Tarot. Just a fortune teller, or simply a character in fiction? The actual act of Weighell putting him in fiction — was that to weaken ‘Westfall’ as a reality? After all, we surely know the derivation of the word ‘tragic’, don’t we? And that these, my reviews, are defiantly placed on the ephemeral fleetingness of the internet? Here one day, gone the next. So why bother to treat them seriously?
    “People will increasingly turn their back on the eternal and espouse the fleeting, have no concentration, giving all their attention to an intermeddled mass of trivia and idiotic games.”
    This is no game, it is a Way of Fiction Laws, like those Laws of Moses, ‘brought back from the depths of Hell.’
    “The purpose of the rite is the rite. What you experience is what you become.”

  16. Spoilers!


    Parcels of pain, too, dreams and visions, a coming together, under the enforced disguise of confusion, of many of this book’s themes of art and music and rituals and events and spells and characters and aspirations, all now factored by me into what I wrote above about ‘the Miltonic evil/good aspects that I once explored with Egnisism (Mellow/ Singe) in The Egnisomicon in the 1960s’… as Cyrus reaches his epiphany, now somehow back with Aridela, herself with soothing hands roving about him, as they open the cage to allow the Plutonic Form of Satyr to emerge via some Pan Theism or Pan Theurgy, whereby I also note that the word GOATS sounds like GHOST. These being my own instinctive observations, not necessarily this book’s.
    All of this couched or caged in Weighellish weighty tranches and short blasts of Prose Style as Fiction Ritual, perhaps the only writer who could do so, who can still do this, esp. now, by paradox, caging the ‘Polar Horror’ as once set loose by ‘Westfall’, amidst the memory of Aridela and Rose as satyr lore and Djinn companion respectively. Then to Machen and to South Wales on the Pandemonium Express perhaps, to a place not far, I guess, from where my father was born in Llanelli, a place that even HP Lovecraft knew about (please note his surname in connection with this book!): (“For eighty thousand years Pth’thya-l’yi had lived in Y’ha-nthlei”) and ‘The Angel Cage’, the ‘Library Angels’, the story of Titus Flavius Senilis as Dream Interpreter with Victorinus, ‘The Chestnut Husk’, and Aridela finally becoming a satyr, and much else that I am still scrying.
    The COYrus has uncaged itself perhaps, and become that Platonic Form of Satyr beyond Satire, as well as still its Plutonic Form…whereby I envision some Holy GHOST with Holy GOATS within? “There are many paths to god.” Or to God.

    “Suddenly, it became whole and joyful. It ran steadily now, hooves strong and compact, pounding the earth. It ran through the formal garden, then the wild park, making for the forested mountains.”