In Detroit, tonight is known as Devil’s Night. When I was a kid, that meant ringing the doorbells of neighbors and hiding in the bushes. For others, it meant much worse. In celebration of the season, I have an article in today’s WSJ on horror writer Arthur Machen. Subscribers can read it here. An excerpt:
If Machen (rhymes with “blacken”) isn’t widely read today, it’s not because his stories have goofy premises — so does Bram Stoker’s yarn about a blood-sucking Transylvanian who sleeps in a coffin. Horror aficionados in fact esteem Machen as a weird-fiction pioneer who left a clear imprint on H.P. Lovecraft and other successors, especially for his ability to locate bizarre terrors in what appear to be ordinary surroundings. … Machen’s masterpiece may be “The White People.” It begins with a stilted philosophical discussion, but at its heart is a girl’s stream-of-consciousness account of an encounter with profound wickedness. E.F. Bleiler, an authority on ghost stories and their ilk, has called it “probably the finest single supernatural story of the [19th] century, perhaps in the literature.”
You can read “The White People” here.