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A Fragment of Life by Arthur Machen, Fiction, Classics, Literary, Fantasy

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All day long a fierce and heavy heat had brooded Over the City, and as Darnell neared home he saw the mist lying on all the damp lowlands, wreathed in coils about Bedford Park to the south and mounting to the West, so that the tower of Acton Church loomed out of a grey lake. He lived in the grey phantasmal world, akin to death, that has, somehow, with most of us, made good All day long a fierce and heavy heat had brooded Over the City, and as Darnell neared home he saw the mist lying on all the damp lowlands, wreathed in coils about Bedford Park to the south and mounting to the West, so that the tower of Acton Church loomed out of a grey lake. He lived in the grey phantasmal world, akin to death, that has, somehow, with most of us, made good its claim to be called life. But so went forth Darnell, strangely mistaking death for life, madness for sanity and purposeless and wandering phantoms for true beings. He was sincerely of opinion that he was a City clerk, living in Shepherd's Bush -- having forgotten the mysteries and the far-shining glories of the kingdom which was his by legitimate inheritance. . . .


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All day long a fierce and heavy heat had brooded Over the City, and as Darnell neared home he saw the mist lying on all the damp lowlands, wreathed in coils about Bedford Park to the south and mounting to the West, so that the tower of Acton Church loomed out of a grey lake. He lived in the grey phantasmal world, akin to death, that has, somehow, with most of us, made good All day long a fierce and heavy heat had brooded Over the City, and as Darnell neared home he saw the mist lying on all the damp lowlands, wreathed in coils about Bedford Park to the south and mounting to the West, so that the tower of Acton Church loomed out of a grey lake. He lived in the grey phantasmal world, akin to death, that has, somehow, with most of us, made good its claim to be called life. But so went forth Darnell, strangely mistaking death for life, madness for sanity and purposeless and wandering phantoms for true beings. He was sincerely of opinion that he was a City clerk, living in Shepherd's Bush -- having forgotten the mysteries and the far-shining glories of the kingdom which was his by legitimate inheritance. . . .

30 review for A Fragment of Life by Arthur Machen, Fiction, Classics, Literary, Fantasy

  1. 4 out of 5

    Karl

    Contains: 003 - "A Fragment of Life" 123 - "The White People" Contains: 003 - "A Fragment of Life" 123 - "The White People"

  2. 5 out of 5

    Oscar

    El galés Arthur Machen (1863-1947) fue periodista, traductor e incluso actor, pero la fama le vino con sus escritos de corte fantástico, que son por los que siempre será recordado. Su estilo destaca por el lirismo y un anhelo por lo místico y folclórico, con ciertos tintes esotéricos. Su influencia abarca a escritores como H.P. Lovecraft y Jorge Luis Borges. ‘Un fragmento de vida’ (A Fragment of Life, 1906) tiene como protagonista al matrimonio Darnell, Edward y Mary, un matrimonio convencional y El galés Arthur Machen (1863-1947) fue periodista, traductor e incluso actor, pero la fama le vino con sus escritos de corte fantástico, que son por los que siempre será recordado. Su estilo destaca por el lirismo y un anhelo por lo místico y folclórico, con ciertos tintes esotéricos. Su influencia abarca a escritores como H.P. Lovecraft y Jorge Luis Borges. ‘Un fragmento de vida’ (A Fragment of Life, 1906) tiene como protagonista al matrimonio Darnell, Edward y Mary, un matrimonio convencional y juicioso, que toma las decisiones desde la sensatez. Su vida transcurre de forma tranquila y monótona, atrapado por un trabajo en la City insatisfactorio, ahorros, precios, compras, problemas con la servidumbre, la familia y amistades previsibles. Parece que viven a gusto, pero hay una cierta amargura y tedio en Edward, cuya vía de escape son unos sueños recurrentes sobre un lugar maravilloso de bellos jardines y paisajes. Así, la novela transcurre con un tono realista, en el que Edward le cuenta sus sueños a su esposa, entre ellos cierta experiencia que tuvo antes de casarse en la que emprendía paseos por Londres y alrededores, en los que se olvidaba del tiempo y el espacio, y que para mí es una parte brillante, memorable. Machen nos alienta a descubrir el otro lado de la monotonía diaria, a buscar más allá de lo que tenemos a simple vista. Magnífica novela, de las que hay que leer y releer.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jim Smith

    Underrated and underrepresented in anthologies in favour of his novella The Terror, this is a quintessential revelatory Machen narrative. Its lack of popularity partly comes down to its existence just on the fringes of genre writing. Indeed, much of the first half is deliberately banal and frustrating, which is a risky move from any writer and one sure to put off some readers, but as it goes on this deliberately punishing and minute account of everyday quibbles subtly and tentatively pierces thr Underrated and underrepresented in anthologies in favour of his novella The Terror, this is a quintessential revelatory Machen narrative. Its lack of popularity partly comes down to its existence just on the fringes of genre writing. Indeed, much of the first half is deliberately banal and frustrating, which is a risky move from any writer and one sure to put off some readers, but as it goes on this deliberately punishing and minute account of everyday quibbles subtly and tentatively pierces through the veil as the narrative irrupts into the fantastic and unclassifiable. My own tastes run more in line with the darker 'The White People' and The Hill of Dreams, but this is a delicate, eerie and moving apotheosis of Machen's artistic creed from towards the end of his great period of writing.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    An elusive book written with great delicacy, part of the magnum opus Machen abandoned, despairing that he had "dreamt in fire but worked in clay". The other surviving portions of this work are the brilliant supernatural novella "The White People" - widely acknowledged as one of the greatest works of weird fiction ever penned - and the beautifully written tragic novel THE HILL OF DREAMS. This work is not truly supernatural, but a study in finding religious ecstasy in one's own environment and the An elusive book written with great delicacy, part of the magnum opus Machen abandoned, despairing that he had "dreamt in fire but worked in clay". The other surviving portions of this work are the brilliant supernatural novella "The White People" - widely acknowledged as one of the greatest works of weird fiction ever penned - and the beautifully written tragic novel THE HILL OF DREAMS. This work is not truly supernatural, but a study in finding religious ecstasy in one's own environment and the activities of daily living. In a way this makes the work the only happy portion in the trilogy of works written at this time, each depicting the fate of a person striving towards something beyond the limits of his or her vision.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Shabbeer Hassan

    Another one of Machen's supernatural stories with lesser components of horror than a version of 1990 movie Ghost! Read it if you have oodles of time to kill. My Rating - 2/5 Another one of Machen's supernatural stories with lesser components of horror than a version of 1990 movie Ghost! Read it if you have oodles of time to kill. My Rating - 2/5

  6. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Russo

    If this is your first book of Machen's it could put you off. But if you know him and his books then this novella is a gem. I really loved the atmosphere throughout the text, a really example of Machen's best writing. Nothing much happens actually, but it doesn't really matter, I've paid attention and enjoyed other aspects. "A Fragment of Life" and "Far Off Things" are two Machenian masterpieces. Here's a sentence that has struck me, a perfect example of the atmosphere I've mentioned: «She was ha If this is your first book of Machen's it could put you off. But if you know him and his books then this novella is a gem. I really loved the atmosphere throughout the text, a really example of Machen's best writing. Nothing much happens actually, but it doesn't really matter, I've paid attention and enjoyed other aspects. "A Fragment of Life" and "Far Off Things" are two Machenian masterpieces. Here's a sentence that has struck me, a perfect example of the atmosphere I've mentioned: «She was half dreaming as she listened for the servant's footsteps, and the faint shadow of a shade of a thought came over her, and she imagined dimly, for the quick moment of a dream, another world where rapture was wine, where one wandered in a deep and happy valley, and the moon was always rising red above the trees».

  7. 4 out of 5

    LucianTaylor

    In spite the fact that it starts with almost meaningless day to day topics, you will understand the purpose of this beginning, as it turns into an incredible awakening of the soul for the Protagonist. It left me with that "American Beauty" or "Little Miss Sunshine" movie feeling but with a Machen sort of "The Matrix" signature twist. It is truly an underrated work of Machen. I've read untill now from his novels: Great God Pan, Novel of the White Powder (from Three Impostors), Novel of the Black In spite the fact that it starts with almost meaningless day to day topics, you will understand the purpose of this beginning, as it turns into an incredible awakening of the soul for the Protagonist. It left me with that "American Beauty" or "Little Miss Sunshine" movie feeling but with a Machen sort of "The Matrix" signature twist. It is truly an underrated work of Machen. I've read untill now from his novels: Great God Pan, Novel of the White Powder (from Three Impostors), Novel of the Black Seal (Three Impostors), Hill of Dreams, this one, and The Secret Glory. But as I rated lately Secret Glory, I had to re-rate this one and qualify it as my favorite novel of Machen. Got nostalgia of this Fragment of Life and will re-read it again.

  8. 4 out of 5

    BC Batcheshire

    Maybe I'm just having a bad day, but all I can say is that had this been the first book by Machen I ever read - I would not have bothered to read more. So, if you've never read any of his work, choose a different story. If you're thinking of reading Machen, skip this one. Or if you have read it, but haven't picked up any of his other work - don't judge him by this story alone, because it is singularly one of the most disappointing beginnings you could start with. Altogether banal and forcefully Maybe I'm just having a bad day, but all I can say is that had this been the first book by Machen I ever read - I would not have bothered to read more. So, if you've never read any of his work, choose a different story. If you're thinking of reading Machen, skip this one. Or if you have read it, but haven't picked up any of his other work - don't judge him by this story alone, because it is singularly one of the most disappointing beginnings you could start with. Altogether banal and forcefully anticlimactic, I definitely got the sense it had been written with greater, but ultimately unrealized, intentions... And I rate it at two stars because I can't bear the idea of giving Machen less.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Omaira

    Sería una buena novela si el desarrollo de la historia hubiese sido más extenso. En las últimas veinte páginas hay condensada tanta información, contada de una forma poética y rimbombante, con la que el lector no sabe a qué atenerse. Consigue que ese incipiente cariño que se le cobra a los personajes desaparezca, los convierte en espectros, personas totalmente desdibujadas. Y qué quieres que te diga, me ha apenado un poco. En fin, me ha gustado la idea y cómo esta escrito pero, querido Machen, da Sería una buena novela si el desarrollo de la historia hubiese sido más extenso. En las últimas veinte páginas hay condensada tanta información, contada de una forma poética y rimbombante, con la que el lector no sabe a qué atenerse. Consigue que ese incipiente cariño que se le cobra a los personajes desaparezca, los convierte en espectros, personas totalmente desdibujadas. Y qué quieres que te diga, me ha apenado un poco. En fin, me ha gustado la idea y cómo esta escrito pero, querido Machen, daba para más y no lo has sabido aprovechar.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Palwascha

    Here is a narrative that totally sucks you in but just at the moment of the big reveal leaves you hanging. I could not get over the abrupt end. It seemed as if Mr. Machen got bored writing this novel (it took him from 1895 to 1897 to complete). I can say that this is one of those novels that leaves you bereft not because of a tragedy in the story but outside of it. In this case, the incompleteness. After finishing the novel, I felt angry at Machen for many days.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    The note I wrote to myself after reading this book was: Now what is going on here? I didn't understand it! The note I wrote to myself after reading this book was: Now what is going on here? I didn't understand it!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    Begins in the quotidian. Ends in the exalted.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Germán

    Librito curioso, un tanto desconcertante, a medio camino entre el Machen abiertamente fantástico de El gran Dios Pan y el más comedido de La colina de los sueños, quizás más cercano al segundo, pero con trazos obvios del primero. Gran parte de la narración viene a ser lo del título, unos días cualesquiera en la vida de un matrimonio, con conversaciones acerca de cómo amueblar una habitación, los precios de tal o cual cosa, o cotilleos sobre la mala relación de la criada con su futura suegra. Me r Librito curioso, un tanto desconcertante, a medio camino entre el Machen abiertamente fantástico de El gran Dios Pan y el más comedido de La colina de los sueños, quizás más cercano al segundo, pero con trazos obvios del primero. Gran parte de la narración viene a ser lo del título, unos días cualesquiera en la vida de un matrimonio, con conversaciones acerca de cómo amueblar una habitación, los precios de tal o cual cosa, o cotilleos sobre la mala relación de la criada con su futura suegra. Me recordaba un poco a la escena de la película Cómo ser John Malkovich en la que un extraño se mete en la cabeza de Malkovich, probablemente esperando experimentar algo de la emocionante vida del actor, y éste está simplemente en su casa encargando una toalla de baño por teléfono. Sin embargo, de vez en cuando hay algunos fogonazos de la idea recurrente en Machen acerca de otra realidad que no vemos, sea bien con un par de párrafos al final de un capítulo, bien en una larga conversación de la pareja recordando una vivencia extraña de un lejano día de verano. Hacia el final este cambio se hace más permanente y acaba quizás de una forma un tanto brusca, pero a la vez que puede chocar no deja de tener sentido: al fin y al cabo no es más que un fragmento extraído con un corte limpio. Sea como sea, no se llega a hacer aburrido (tampoco es muy largo) y me deja la sensación de que, del mismo modo en que bajo la realidad del señor Darnell hay mucho más que ver, bajo la apariencia corriente de esta novelita hay mucho más que rascar en una futura relectura.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Grady Ormsby

    The House of Souls by Arthur Machen contains four novellas: A Fragment of Life, The White People, The Great God Pan and The Inmost Light. Machen was a Welsh author and renowned mystic during the 1990’s and early 20th century. I’ll comment on the novellas separately. A Fragment of Life was written in 1899 and was first published in 1904. Edward Darnell, a suburb-dwelling clerk, and his wife are a young, newly-wedded couple unsatisfied with their banal life. They turn to spirituality for fulfillmen The House of Souls by Arthur Machen contains four novellas: A Fragment of Life, The White People, The Great God Pan and The Inmost Light. Machen was a Welsh author and renowned mystic during the 1990’s and early 20th century. I’ll comment on the novellas separately. A Fragment of Life was written in 1899 and was first published in 1904. Edward Darnell, a suburb-dwelling clerk, and his wife are a young, newly-wedded couple unsatisfied with their banal life. They turn to spirituality for fulfillment and attempt to penetrate the cloud of illusion of their so-called reality. They make an inward journey towards mysticism and an outward journey to the land of his birth, Wales. What they find in the end isn't exactly what they were looking for. Join them on their eerie, mystical and macabre ride, but leave the lights on.

  15. 5 out of 5

    TiempoNavegante

    I'm not a Machen scholar, so maybe this is common knowledge, but this story felt unfinished, or maybe it was an early draft for something much longer. As it stands the story spends so much time setting up the characters and the scene only to end extremely abruptly and without much explanation. I think I can even mark the break where the main story ends and the slapped-on ending starts. Still, it's pretty interesting. Even though it starts so slow I ended up warming up to the quirky characters and I'm not a Machen scholar, so maybe this is common knowledge, but this story felt unfinished, or maybe it was an early draft for something much longer. As it stands the story spends so much time setting up the characters and the scene only to end extremely abruptly and without much explanation. I think I can even mark the break where the main story ends and the slapped-on ending starts. Still, it's pretty interesting. Even though it starts so slow I ended up warming up to the quirky characters and their daily life, and even found some humour in the way their day-to-day is narrated. There's even a very relatable part where Machen talks about the absurdity of the common worker's life in a modern city, and this was written more than 100 years ago! Fantastic. This story might not be everyone's cup of tea but there are things to be enjoyed here.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Browne

    This is good stuff because it's the opposite pole of The Great God Pan in that it shows, beautifully, a way to be in touch with the world of imagination whilst also keeping a foot in the false "real" world of mundane day-t0-day existence. The passages where Darnell finds his ordinary life transforming into a vision of ancient magic and primal wonders are the highlights, but unfortunately the time spent on this ordinary life renders long parts of this story quite boring. This is good stuff because it's the opposite pole of The Great God Pan in that it shows, beautifully, a way to be in touch with the world of imagination whilst also keeping a foot in the false "real" world of mundane day-t0-day existence. The passages where Darnell finds his ordinary life transforming into a vision of ancient magic and primal wonders are the highlights, but unfortunately the time spent on this ordinary life renders long parts of this story quite boring.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Teresa Mestizo

    Read it in Spanish. Probably a bad idea. Could get the feel of the times but not of the places being described. The ending sounded rushed, with too much information, while the beginning seemed really --perhaps unnecessarily-- long. Liked certain interesting bits, though. Might take a look at the English edition.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Peter Greenwell

    Very much a slow burner. Starts off as a somewhat bland slice of life of a young married couple in 1890s England, then things get weird about two thirds the way in. Only weird though, as there's no horror or mystery anywhere here. Possibly;y one of Machen's lesser efforts. Very much a slow burner. Starts off as a somewhat bland slice of life of a young married couple in 1890s England, then things get weird about two thirds the way in. Only weird though, as there's no horror or mystery anywhere here. Possibly;y one of Machen's lesser efforts.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Metta D. Evandari

    Bab 1-3 bikin bosen tapi tetap sabar menanti kapan adegan horornya muncul. Masuk bab 4 cerita mulai mistis tapi tata bahasa dan ilmu semantisnya semakin tinggi sampai akhirnya saya berpikir "Opo iki?" Bab 1-3 bikin bosen tapi tetap sabar menanti kapan adegan horornya muncul. Masuk bab 4 cerita mulai mistis tapi tata bahasa dan ilmu semantisnya semakin tinggi sampai akhirnya saya berpikir "Opo iki?"

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jay Rothermel

    My review A Fragment of Life By Arthur Machen http://jayrothermel.blogspot.com/2017... My review A Fragment of Life By Arthur Machen http://jayrothermel.blogspot.com/2017...

  21. 4 out of 5

    Angel Martínez

    Extraordinario el lenguaje al que llega Machen, en algunos momentos es sublime su prosa, de lo mejor que puede leerse.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Elleigh

    CONTAINS SPOILERS This book is sooo weird, it sucked me in , on the first half of it and after the main plot is laid down it pretty much just abruptly ends. There is a lot of questions. It was a book of ghost stories , and I just don't think it had any ghosts, I was waiting for them the whole time, and is the aunt really crazy or has the old uncle disposed of her somehow? Why is there such a huge subplot of the servant and her boyfriend? It all comes together In a round about way, but it's all s CONTAINS SPOILERS This book is sooo weird, it sucked me in , on the first half of it and after the main plot is laid down it pretty much just abruptly ends. There is a lot of questions. It was a book of ghost stories , and I just don't think it had any ghosts, I was waiting for them the whole time, and is the aunt really crazy or has the old uncle disposed of her somehow? Why is there such a huge subplot of the servant and her boyfriend? It all comes together In a round about way, but it's all so strange and not In a quaint way, in an annoying unsatisfying way. I JUST DON'T GET IT. And was hugely disappointed because of how the first half of the book was written. Also at the end of some of the chapters is written perhaps a paragraph of weird mumbo jumbo, it makes sence, but is widely out of context and almost seemed like it was written by someone else. Wtf. Iv read heaps of old books a lot of classics, so at first I thought it might be my own stupidity not understanding this, but once I finished I realized. It was not me, I'd be pretty interested to see what other people think.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kristian

    Esta novela aparentemente semi-autobiográfica nos sitúa en la vida diaria de la joven familia Darnell, y cómo el día a día en sus vidas transcurre en un devenir entre la cotidianidad más absurda y trivial y la exploración momentánea y a veces involuntaria de dimensiones ya casi olvidadas y ahora ocultas para el hombre moderno y que en realidad constituyen la verdadera naturaleza del ser humano, regiones de las que hoy en día solamente nos es dado obtener un atisbo a través de las ensoñaciones de Esta novela aparentemente semi-autobiográfica nos sitúa en la vida diaria de la joven familia Darnell, y cómo el día a día en sus vidas transcurre en un devenir entre la cotidianidad más absurda y trivial y la exploración momentánea y a veces involuntaria de dimensiones ya casi olvidadas y ahora ocultas para el hombre moderno y que en realidad constituyen la verdadera naturaleza del ser humano, regiones de las que hoy en día solamente nos es dado obtener un atisbo a través de las ensoñaciones de los poetas y del sufrimiento. Por supuesto que no es el clásico Arthur Machen, pero es bueno tener una idea más amplia de su pensamiento metafísico influenciado por la H.O.G.D.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Nieves Batista

    Está muy bien escrito pero yo no le he encontrado la gracia :(

  25. 5 out of 5

    Mats

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dion Cheney

  27. 4 out of 5

    Duvid Mdd

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ernesto

  29. 4 out of 5

    Messer

  30. 5 out of 5

    Yasmin

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