Paul Robichaud

Aug 19, 2022

Pan

The Great God’s Modern Return

Reaktion Books 2021

From ancient myth to contemporary art and literature, a beguiling look at the many incarnations of the mischievous—and culturally immortal—god Pan. Pan—he of the cloven hoof and lustful grin, beckoning through the trees. From classical myth to modern literature, film, and music, the god Pan has long fascinated and terrified the western imagination. “Panic” is the name given to the peculiar feeling we experience in his presence. Still, the ways in which Pan has been imagined have varied wildly—fitting for a god whose very name the ancients confused with the Greek word meaning “all.” Part-goat, part-man, Pan bridges the divide between the human and animal worlds. In exquisite prose, Paul Robichaud explores how Pan has been imagined in mythology, art, literature, music, spirituality, and popular culture through the centuries. At times, Pan is a dangerous, destabilizing force; sometimes, a source of fertility and renewal. His portrayals reveal shifting anxieties about our own animal impulses and our relationship to nature. Always the outsider, he has been the god of choice for gay writers, occult practitioners, and New Age mystics. And although ancient sources announced his death, he has lived on through the work of Arthur Machen, Gustav Mahler, Kenneth Grahame, D. H. Lawrence, and countless others. Pan: The Great God’s Modern Return (Reaktion Books, 2021) traces his intoxicating dance.

Jana Byars is the Academic Director of Netherlands: International Perspectives on Sexuality and Gender.

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