Stephen King is one of the most popular horror writers who ever lived. Many modern horror authors see him as inspirational and aspirational. However, King wouldn’t be where he is if he didn’t take influence from other authors.
One of King’s most acclaimed novellas from the 2000s was called N. In an unorthodox interview, King revealed the book which inspired N. He also revealed the title of a horror story he considers to be one of the best.
The acclaimed book that inspired Stephen King’s ‘N.’
N. is the story of a man simply referred to as “N.” with obsessive-compulsive disorder. He believes his obsessive-compulsive actions are necessary to prevent a horrifying monster from entering our world. Because it features monsters from another dimension, it’s pretty easy to compare N. to the work of horror author H. P. Lovecraft. In a gimmicky “self-interview” on his blog, King asked himself if Lovecraft was an influence on N.
King said “Not Lovecraft; it’s a riff on Arthur Machen’s “The Great God Pan,” which is one of the best horror stories ever written. Maybe the best in the English language. Mine isn’t anywhere near that good, but I loved the chance to put neurotic behavior—obsessive/compulsive disorder—together with the idea of a monster-filled macroverse. That was a good combination.”
The premise of ‘The Great God Pan’ and its connection to H. P. Lovecraft
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The Great God Pan is an acclaimed Victorian novel. It begins with the story of a woman named Mary who is able to see into another realm thanks to the machinations of a mad scientist. Later, a group of men are killed mysteriously — all of whom knew a woman named Helen Vaughan. To reveal the twist would be unthinkable.
The Great God Pan is often compared to Lovecraft’s fiction due to the focus on monsters from other worlds, religion, and the unknown. Machen’s book is even mentioned in Lovecraft’s “The Dunwhich Horror!” King compared the two authors, opining “As for Machen vs. Lovecraft: sure, Lovecraft was ultimately better, because he did more with those concepts, but “The Great God Pan” is more reader-friendly. And Machen was there first. He wrote “Pan” in 1895, when HPL was five years old.”
Stephen King dishes on ‘The Great God Pan’ and its influence
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N. isn’t the only King story influenced by The Great God Pan. King told Rolling Stone he had the idea for the plot of his novel Revival since he was a high-schooler. He credits both The Great God Pan and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein for helping him come up with the idea for the book.
King commented more on the greatness of The Great God Pan in the afterward of his short story collection Just Before Sunset. In it, he said The Great God Pan suffered from “clumsy prose,” much like Bram Stoker’s Dracula. However, he felt the story was terrifying and felt it had weighty themes similar to Moby-Dick by Herman Melville. To hardcore horror fans, The Great God Pan remains worthy night reading over a century after its release.
Also see: How a John Lennon Song Inspired Stephen King’s ‘The Shining’
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