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The Blessing of Pan, by Lord Dunsany

Reviewed by Philip Challinor

The main theme of Lord Dunsany’s 1928 novel The Blessing of Pan is a conflict between Christianity and paganism – a theme also explored in the author’s 1933 masterpiece The Curse of the Wise Woman. In the later book, the character most affected by the conflict is the Irish peasant Marlin, who worries that his involuntary longings for the pagan paradise will get him blackballed from the Christian Heaven. In The Blessing of Pan, the population of an entire English village is seduced away from the Christian church by the hypnotic piping of a pudding-faced seventeen-year-old, and the conflict takes place mainly in the mind and heart of the Reverend Elderick Anwrel, the mild-mannered village parson.

Aside from a handful of chapters depicting the villagers’ surrender to the pipes – first the girls, then the young men, then almost everybody else – the story is told entirely from Anwrel’s point of view. Although, as in The Curse of the Wise Woman, Dunsany is clearly on the side of the pagans (at least when choosing between them and the Christians), his depiction of Anwrel is touching and sympathetic: the vicar is neither a fool nor a bigot, but a gentle and honest man whose agony over what is happening to his flock gives the book an emotional power which the scenes of pagan liberation, effective and joyous as they are, would probably not have attained on their own.

Read the original article at: The Curmudgeon

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