7 thoughts on “A Country Still All Mystery – Mark Valentine


    …is an essay, inter alios, about books such as this one creating a physical time-haunted complement of — and gestalt addition to — their own word-contents that are otherwise printed upon their pages.
    This stylish introduction, separate from the book proper but still within it, made me think of something I wrote earlier today here in an electronic conversation with Rhys Hughes (who is another Tartarean).
    Bookish people often speak, as this introduction does, about the joy of books discovered in youth or childhood, a nostalgic vision of discovering authors, great and/or obscure, who then are all, of course, older than the reader. A tapping into such seasoned terrains of wisdom and creativity and imagination and sensitivity.
    For me it is now even more powerful in relative old age to tap, as a form of inspired ‘second childhood’, into the ancient books of authors younger than myself, such as Mark Valentine, and certainly, as good examples, Rhys Hughes and John Howard (the latter being the dedicatee of this very book). There are many other examples for me of this ‘second childhood effect’ as my gestalt real-time reviews attest.

  2. ‘A Country Still All Mystery’: Machen, Sarban and Otherworldly Landscapes

    “The English landscape was made, in other words, not just for food and shelter and pleasure, but also for the journey of the soul.”

    Valentine’s style in fiction and non-fiction is immaculately crafted and involving. Take that as read. I will not repeat it in this review.
    Instructive, too. The fairy folk not only as the past, as part of our heritage, are still alive in woods today? A short study of these aspects in Machen and Sarban. In the old days, I preferred the work of Sarban (John William Wall of whom there is a photo shown) to that of Machen. I wonder if I still wood.

  3. ‘An Atlas of Unknown Worlds’: Mary Butts, John Metcalfe and Stories of Strange Regions

    ‘The Bad Lands’ by John Metcalfe was a big influence on my early writing, so it was particularly interesting to read this essay that strongly features a view of that story.

  4. I wrote above:
    “Valentine’s style in fiction and non-fiction is immaculately crafted and involving. Take that as read. I will not repeat it in this review.”

    Although, of course, I shall continue reading this beautiful book (of over 300 pages), I have decided there is little added value in writing for you or for me a real-time review of it. The gestalt method was designed by me for fiction, and although this is ABOUT fiction, it is essentially a book of non-fiction. I shall, however, show below its contents list – and an example of one of its generously supplied illustrations – to entice you into having a relationship yourself with this remarkable tome.


    “It will appeal to anyone who has ever strayed into remote country which seems to be not quite fully in this world.”
    From the book’s cover.


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