Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist
poliphilo

Blackwood

Algernon Blackwood is groovy.

He was at various times an adventurer, a low-life, a secret agent, an occultist, a Buddhist and a radio and TV personality. He wrote a great many books.

As a writer of supernatural stories he's up there with the best.

My gaydar is twitching but I don't think he left any hard evidence either way.

I'm reading his novel The Centaur (1911). Thick treacly prose. A wild Irishman is sailing to the Caucasus and is strangely attracted by a fellow passenger who appears "bigger" than he really is (see what I mean about the gaydar?) He and the ship's doctor think this guy may be an emanation of the Earth's Unconscious Mind (or something of the sort)- a hang-over from the Golden Age.

I guess the title betrays just what kind of hang-over he's going to turn out to be, though I haven't got to the big disclosure scene yet (if there is a big disclosure scene.)

The influence of Henry James hangs heavy. Almost nothing has happened yet and we're 70 pages in. Algie likes to analyze. He likes to speculate. He keeps finding new ways of telling us the same thing over and over again.

Kipling would have knocked off a yarn like this in four or five pages and still not skimped on the atmosphere.

But it is atmospheric. Strange, uncanny, oppressive. It may be nonsense, but it's nonsense with heft.

Jung hasn't published yet, but most of his big ideas are here. We've got the Collective Unconscious, we've got Archetypes. Come on in, Herr Doctor, I've got this stuff that needs systematizing.

Modern Pagans should read Blackwood; he's one of their grand-daddies. Neo-paganism is nothing more than Edwardian romanticism thinned down with white spirit to make it spread more easily.
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