In his room in Gray’s Inn, London, at the end of the nineteenth century Arthur Machen had one of the most memorable mystical experiences of his life: ‘the wall trembled and the pictures on the wall shook and shivered before my eyes, as if a sudden wind had blown into the room.’ For days afterwards he went about in ‘a rapture of delight’. This encounter with another order of things reinforced his conviction that there is a world beyond the one where we usually walk.
The six stories in The Children of the Pool, reflect in their different ways this lifelong belief. The bookish recluse in ‘The Exalted Omega’, the kabbalistic artist in ‘Out of the Picture’, the holiday¬makers in a Welsh resort in ‘Change’, all encounter the truly un-canny, and cannot emerge unchanged. And in the other three stories Machen explores the edges of that un¬known terrain, the human mind.
‘There are hints or indications of new paths,’ was Machen’s typically modest comment on the book to his old friend A.E. Waite. In this last collection of fiction (first published 1936), the Apostle of Wonder shows he has lost none of his visionary power.