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The Three Impostors Paperback – August 1, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Founded in 1906 by J.M. Dent, the Everyman Library has always tried to make the best books ever written available to the greatest number of people at the lowest possible price. Unique editorial features that help Everyman Paperback Classics stand out from the crowd include: a leading scholar or literary critic's introduction to the text, a biography of the author, a chronology of her or his life and times, a historical selection of criticism, and a concise plot summary. All books published since 1993 have also been completely restyled: all type has been reset, to offer a clarity and ease of reading unique among editions of the classics; a vibrant, full-color cover design now complements these great texts with beautiful contemporary works of art. But the best feature must be Everyman's uniquely low price. Each Everyman title offers these extensive materials at a price that competes with the most inexpensive editions on the market-but Everyman Paperbacks have durable binding, quality paper, and the highest editorial and scholarly standards. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 196 pages
  • Publisher: Aegypan (August 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1598184377
  • ISBN-13: 978-1598184372
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,668,609 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By cameron-vale on August 10, 2003
Format: Paperback
Horror master Arthur Machen's crowning achievement, a still shocking compendium of interwoven short horror tales. In late 19th century London, a scientist and an unpublished writer join forces as amateur detectives in an attempt to solve a minor but puzzling mystery which ultimately leads to the discovery of a truly diabolical conspiracy. In the course of their investigations, the two men find themselves repeatedly surrendering their attention to a series of seemingly outlandish tales spun by an assortment of eccentric story tellers. The stories, which all deal with imposture of some kind, are only tangentially related to each other, yet offer the somewhat bumbling sleuths important clues to the mystery at hand. Machen builds suspense slowly and methodically, masterfully leading the reader on to a completely unexpected, gruesome climax. Comical, tragic, sophisticated, violent, horrific, and even downright disgusting, THE THREE IMPOSTORS is a classic horror novel of sly deception and wit.

The 1995 Everyman paperback is the only critical edition of this remarkably rich book released to date, offering a scholarly introduction (by editor David Trotter) that carefully details Machen's main influences (chiefly Robert Louis Stevenson) and themes (imposture of various kinds, also derived from Stevenson). A short text summary nicely encapsulates the narrative's various twists and turns. Finally, a section entitled "Machen and His Critics" provides a welcome offering of mostly contemporaneous critical responses to this remarkable book; while many of these reviews were laudatory, quite a few passionately outraged quotes reveal just how shocking THE THREE IMPOSTORS must truly have been in its time.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Nevzat Evrim Onal on September 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
Arthur Machen can easily be described as one of the writers who provided the foundation to the 20th century fantasy and horror literature. This one is a great collection of horror stories, most of which has a quite Lovecraftian style. If you are new to Machen, and/or like stories with a tinge of "Mythos Horror" in them, you'll definetely like this one.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Meanwhile, Melinda on April 6, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is my first Machen. It is clear to me why he was an influence on Lovecraft - they are both masters of suspense and all things that slither. The three impostors are working for their master - looking for a man who has betrayed him. Thesr are the stories of the three impostors, used to locate their quarry in the city of London. The transmutations refer to these stories. The suspense builds as they hunt down their prey. I would recommend this to people who like Lovecraft and old fashioned horror. I enjoyed it immensely.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lance Mitchell on July 8, 2013
Format: Paperback
I did enjoy this story, the way that it was told, and the way that all of the threads were brought together in an horrific climax.

The style of writing reminded me of that of Arthur Conan Doyle, which should not surprise me, as he and Arthur Machen were contemporaries. The language is very descriptive and somewhat flowery. Occasionally, that gets a bit boring, but mostly it is, for me, beautiful prose.

There appear to be three main characters, but they converge on a fourth. There is much mystery and supernatural overtone.

Machen's anti-materialism shines through his characterizations. This provokes deep thought in the reader. At least, it did with me.

There are some quite scary parts to this book. A good producer could make a very good film of it. Perhaps they already have. I haven't looked into it.

All in all, I enjoyed the book, and swayed between three and four stars for it, but eventually settled on three because I found part of it to be a bit of a trudge through treacle. Sorry Arthur!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Chip Kaufmann on March 20, 2011
Format: Paperback
I first read Arthur Machen (pronounced MACK-ken) back when I was in college in the early 1970s. I was already a fan of supernatural fiction especially the Victorian ghost story as exemplified by M.R. James and Sheridan Le Fanu. I first found out about Machen when I saw him listed as an influence on H.P. Lovecraft and I had read one of the stories from THE THREE IMPOSTERS, the often excerpted THE NOVEL OF THE WHITE POWDER and was suitably impressed. THE THREE IMPOSTERS, in its entirety, is a truly remarkable work that links several diverse stories into a framing story of amateur sleuths trying to solve a tantilizing mystery. The writing is suitably colorful, the imagery is astonishly vivid, and the climax is as gruesome as anything that I have come across in books or movies since then.

Machen crops up in fantasy/horror anthologies a lot especially his stories THE GREAT GOD PAN, THE BOWMEN and THE WHITE POWDER which is the most terrifying of the tales told in THE THREE IMPOSTERS. While that story can certainly stand on its own as can another called THE NOVEL OF THE BLACK SEAL, they really need to be read within the context of the entire book so that you can really appreciate Machen's skill at constructing a narrative that is deceptively simple yet surprisingly complex. My old Ballentine paperback has seen better days since I first bought it in 1972 so I am glad to see THREE IMPOSTERS in an improved edition as well as available on Kindle, a development that would no doubt have pleased Machen who being an author, journalist, essayist, and translator, would have wanted to reach as wide a reading public as possible.
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