The Willows by Algernon Blackwood

Algernon BlackwoodHave you ever been away from the crowd, far from the throng and the everyday comings and goings of people?  For instance, out on a long walk in unfamiliar territory, deep in the wilds, surrounded by nature, maybe a little lost or disoriented?  Have you ever felt the overpowering presence of nature, the deep contrast of sunlight and shadow and half heard sounds in the undergrowth.  And the wind in the trees swinging a subconscious pendulum, your surroundings embodying a dark ambivalence, verging on supernatural threat?

This is the atmosphere created by Algernon Blackwood in his short story The Willows (1907).  This would be enough – but he goes further, he suggests that occasionally we may come closer to a more inconceivable threat than we realise.  In certain places and at certain times the walls that separate worlds stretch thin and this ‘other’ place bleeds into our own with terrible consequences.

I urge you, if you have not done so already, to read this early example of ‘weird’ fiction.


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