Posted by: Nyxks | June 3, 2007

A Dark Muse

A Dark Muse
by Gary Lachman © 2003
Avalon Publishing
ISBN 1-56025-656-7
Paperback
384 pages (includes Bibliography)
$16.95 (U.S.)
Reviewed by: Mike Gleason

Not only does the author detail the effects of the occult on the writing of the past few centuries, he includes selections from these writings. Each chapter ends with note to further your understanding.

The authors covered range from Swedenborg, Cagliostro and St. Germain to Edgar Allen Poe, Aleister Crowley, and others. Not all of them have excerpts included, of course (since it would necessitate a book at least three times the size of this one), but the excerpts convey the tone and the breadth of the authors.

Over three dozen poets, writers and philosophers are covered in at least moderate degree; the influences on their life and their influences on the lives of others are explored. Some of these individuals will be familiar to mot well-read individuals (Poe, Maupassant, Crowley and Goethe, among others), while others will be little known outside of narrow fields of interest (Meyrink, Pessoa, and Malcolm Lowry come to mind). If it accomplished nothing else, the sheer breadth of thought represented in this book would make it a valuable addition to almost any serious student’s library.

The author of this work is at least as surprising and the subjects he has chosen to explore. Mr. Lachman was a founding member of the group “Blondie” and guitarist who played with Iggy Pop. He has been published in journals ranging from “Fortean Times” and “Bizarre” to the “Times Literary Supplement”. Such an unusual background seems to have served him very well.

If you think that only writers are inspired by the occult, this book will open your eyes to the influence on painters and composers, as well as poets and writers. And their output includes items not normally associated with magickal or mystical thought.

On a personal level, I found this book to be a real eye-opener. I realized, as I was reading this work, just how narrow my own exposure had been to the products of occult influence. Certainly I had read Crowley (and recognized the occult influence), but I had not looked at Poe or Guy de Maupassant in that particular vein. I have never looked beyond the “mainstream” authors and poets, and found myself grateful for the exposure to other sources. Now, I have been inspired to expand my readings.

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