The House of Souls
Machen’s collection of short stories The House of Souls appeared in Grant Richards’s advertisement for Dubliners. Best known for his supernatural tales such as “The Great God Pan” and “The White People,” Machen’s writings emanate from his wide reading of occult literature and his penchant for supernatural terror. Machen published a couple of volumes in John Lane’s popular Keynotes series during the 1890s, and Grant Richards solicited a manuscript from him based on the modest successes and scandals caused by those stories. A decade after their original publication, The House of Souls collects many of Machen’s most popular stories. Machen worked as a occult bibliographer and translator for an antiquarian book dealer as a young man.
Like many of his age, Joyce took a passing interest in the occult as a young man, and his Trieste library contained books on mysticism, spirituality, and hermeticism. He owned Annie Besant’s Une introduction á la théosophie (1907), The Path of Discipleship (1904) (JJTL 50, 51) and H.S. Olcott’s A Buddhist Catechism (JJ 76). He also took interest in the sixteenth-century alchemical manuscript Splendor Solis, which is housed in the British Museum and appears in Finnegans Wake.