By Glen Cavaliero (auth.)
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I have had some experience of estates, and answered that cutting was very necessary for the health of the larger trees. The Early Stories 45 Besides, it was unreasonable to expect the proprietor to derive no income from his lands. (r) The two sides are played off against each other and both found wanting. The Italian characters are likewise to be met again later, most significantly the young waiter Gennaro. He is the ideal friend whose death is to be the price for the English boy's release, but who dies, in mordantly Forsterian fashion, still clasping the fee for his treachery.
It represents the quintessence of Machen's imaginative world: a solitary boy growing up in a landscape which both fascinates and scares him; the surrounding enclave of adult obtuseness and conventionality; intimations of an ancient civilisation among the ruins of Roman Caerleon; and, most significantly, the dawning of sexuality during sleep on the summit of an ancient earthwork. But the conflict between the physical and imaginative sides of Lucian's nature results in his self-destruction among the arid terraces of London suburbia.
Much as he loved Rooksnest, he had a just appreciation of what it did for him. It gave him 'a slant upon society and history. It is a middle-class slant, atavistic, derived from the Thorntons, and it has been corrected by contact with friends who have never had a home in the Thornton sense, and do not want one' (,My Recollections'). The fact that there is no qualifying statement following that declaration is typical of him. What concerned him about his childhood was that it had given him an understanding of how his ancestors had felt about Battersea Rise.