the engulfing landscape

September 28, 2017

(Algernon)Blackwood at his most potent expertly comingles both awe and horror to profoundly unsettling effect. This is never more evident than in ‘The Willows’ (1907), possibly the most widely anthologised of Blackwood’s stories (followed closely by 1910’s ‘The Wendigo’), and if not exactly representative of his variegated output, it is perhaps the story in which Blackwood’s powers are most astutely and artistically deployed. Beginning as a genteel Mittel European travelogue chronicling the months-long canoe trip of two men along the Danube, Blackwood expertly strips away the quotidian from the engulfing landscape until, by its climax, it is perhaps a near perfect exposition of Lovecraft’s idealised ‘true Weird Tale’…

James Machin
Algernon Blackwood: strange wilderness in the Willows